Then and Now: When the plague suddenly strikes
In several pandemics throughout history, the plague has often struck like a tsunami when people let their guard down and were caught unprepared.
The Great Plague of London: Suddenly It Came, Suddenly It Went
One night in March 1832, people were partying in the ballrooms of Paris, France. Heine, a German poet who was in Paris, witnessed this tragic moment: “When cholera was announced in Paris on March 29, many people were not impressed. They ridiculed the fear of the disease, not to mention ignoring the occurrence of cholera.”
“Suddenly, on a dance floor, one of the amusing clowns fell down with weak legs. After he took off his mask, people were surprised to find that his face had turned blue. The laughter died down. Carriages quickly took the revelers from the dance to the hospital, but soon they collapsed in a row, still wearing the costumes they had worn at the revelry.”
The sudden arrival of the plague, like a tsunami, caught people off guard.
The epidemic had emerged in London a year prior, but it did not attract much attention at first. Initially, the British misjudged cholera as something reserved for the poor.
The British Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century brought prosperity to all of Europe, and people were in awe of the miracles and endless wealth brought about by industrialization. Public health care also experienced quick development like never before.
In 1518, the English government published regulations to combat the plague for the first time based on what they had learned from the “Black Death” that had ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351. According to the regulations, people infected with the disease were forbidden to go out. If they did, they could be charged a felony or even sentenced to death. And their family members, even if not infected with the disease, would also be flogged or imprisoned if they were found wandering around the streets.
But the prosperity brought about by the Industrial Revolution and strict epidemic prevention regulations did not stop the plague. In 1831, a cholera epidemic broke out in London, and it soon became clear that cholera did not only affect the poor. The onset, spread, and prevention, and control of the plague were a mystery. People moved urgently from the city to the countryside to escape the epidemic, only to find it becoming just as terrible as the city, and there was nowhere to hide.
When the cholera epidemic spread to Europe, it also claimed the life of German philosopher Friedrich Hegel in 1831 in Berlin, Germany. However, a year later, the mysterious London pandemic suddenly stopped and disappeared without a trace.
It was once questioned whether the shipping and transportation brought about by the industrial revolution of the 18th century made it easier for the virus to spread. However, if we look back at the Roman plague that occurred in the 6th century AD, such a claim is self-defeating. At that time, both East and West were feudal societies, without any new shipping means, yet the plague still spread to a wide area in a short time.
Spanish Flu: Second Wave of Fall Outbreak More Aggressive
At the beginning of the 20th century, a Spanish Flu called the “mother of all pandemics” swept the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Spanish Flu killed 40 to 50 million people worldwide in the two years between 1918 and 1920.
And many scientists and historians believe that one-third of the world’s population (about 1.8 billion people) were infected with the virus at that time.
In March 1918, before the end of World War I, a virus began to spread along the coastline. Spain was the first to get hit by it, and it was here that it earned a very romantic name: “The Spanish Lady.” Although spring was a high season for influenza, patients recovered quickly and the death rate was not higher than usual. World War I dominated the global headlines at the time, and the flu seemed to be history.
In the fall, however, everything changed. The previously uncommon virus reappeared in the form of a highly virulent strain that ravaged North America and Europe. Patients often died within hours or days. Within four months, the Spanish Flu spread around the world, even to the most remote communities.
In general, the worldwide influenza death curve is U-shaped, with children, the elderly, and people with weakened immunity occupying the peak of death. In the Spanish pandemic of 1918, however, the death curve was uniquely W-shaped, in addition to children and the elderly, there was a special peak death population: young adults aged about 20 to 40 years, who accounted for 50% of the overall pandemic deaths. Presumably, 99% of the total number of deaths were those younger than 65 years of age.
By March 1919, the epidemic suddenly disappeared. The death toll, an estimated 50 million to 100 million people, from the Spanish flu pandemic, which came and went in a hurry and stopped suddenly, was enormous and terrible.
The Chinese Communist Party’s Fake “Fighting-Pandemic” Myth
In late 2019, an unexpected epidemic broke out in Wuhan, China. After the city officials insisted for over a month that the disease was “controllable and preventable,” the sudden lockdown of Wuhan on January 23, 2020, only revealed how serious the situation had become.
For the next few months, as positive cases quickly rose across the world, the official numbers of infected patients and deaths remained very low, despite photos of long lines of patients waiting in the hospital and families of the deceased picking up the ash urns in funeral homes. By early April, almost no more cases were being reported, and it seemed that China had successfully won the battle against the deadly virus, although many suspected it to be only the regime’s number games.
Entering the second half of 2020, new cases began to pick up in northeastern China. This time, the Chinese Communist Party is painting the image of success in fighting the pandemic. They claimed that they have established a complete and mature system for fighting the pandemic and that as long as the patient is found, big data can be used to trace the transmission chain, isolate them and inspect them to quickly control the pandemic. And Shanghai is held up as a top city in the fight, where the communist regime claimed that the coronavirus patients are all actively discovered in the city’s fever clinics, rather than passively discovering them after the infection has spread.
The Chinese authorities also spread the rumor that the domestic epidemic had been brought under control, and the source of the disease was mainly from overseas and seafood freezing chains, in order to shirk the responsibility of covering up the pandemic. But the fact is, the pandemic in Hebei and Heilongjiang was found to have spread from rural areas. This alone contradicted their claims. How can there be foreign viruses in rural areas? Where is the real origin of the outbreak in Hebei?
What is even more disturbing is that, after the authorities declared victory in clearing pandemic patients in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province recently, a new case was detected. With the airtight isolation, why have new cases kept appearing? No one is answering this question.
While many Chinese people have become numb about the pandemic in China given the false picture of the Chinese Communist Party’s successful fight against the virus, the real numbers reported around the world are becoming extremely alarming and urgent.
Scientists Warn: “It Will Sweep in Like a Tsunami”
Outside of China, the coronavirus has kept spreading and mutating. By early February 2021, more than 100 million people have been infected and more than 2.14 million have died worldwide. Even more frightening is that the transmission rate of the UK variant of the virus is 70% higher than that of the old virus.
According to a Washington Post report titled “Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant” on January 22, 2021, Danish scientist Krause said recently that since the first variant of the coronavirus was discovered in the UK, it is spreading at an alarming rate and that existing methods of slowing the spread of the outbreak are ineffective: “This period is going to be a bit like a tsunami, in the way you stand on the beach and then suddenly you can see all the water retract,” as cases drop, Krause said. “Afterward, you will have the tsunami coming in and overwhelming you.”
Cases involving the variant are increasing 70 percent a week in Denmark, despite a strict lockdown, according to Denmark’s State Serum Institute, a government agency that tracks diseases and advises on health policy. Danish authorities expect the variant to become the dominant strain of the virus in the country by mid-February.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark told people to imagine sitting in the top row of Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium, a soccer arena with a capacity of 38,000 people. A dripping tap is filling it up, one drop the first minute, two drops the second, four drops the third.
At that rate, Frederiksen said the park would be filled in 44 minutes. But it would seem almost empty for the first 42 minutes. “The point is, you only realize that the water has risen when it’s almost too late,” she wrote.
Evidence suggests that the variant of the CCP Virus which has spread in more than 70 countries, may be more deadly than the old virus, in addition to spreading faster. Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to the British government, said the Kent variant is now known to spread faster than the old virus and is not ethnic-specific or age-specific.
Despite extensive research into the virus in the past year, scientists are still far from fully understanding this unusual coronavirus that is spreading all over the world now, including where it comes from, how fast it mutates, and what exactly is the cure.
Looking back at history, no matter how advanced science and technology are today, human beings have remained to be insignificant and powerless in the face of big calamities. Only by being humble and sober and more respectful of the divine and by reflecting more on ourselves and our conduct can we see the situation better, learn a positive lesson from history, and find the right way out.