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Coronavirus pandemic and conspiracy theories


Coronavirus pandemic and conspiracy theories

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

The entire world is shattered. All of us are being devastated and somehow frustrated at the sudden spread of Coronavirus, which has already formed many of the nations in the world in either declaring lock-down or announcing public holidays to government and private establishments.

Every day, the numbers of infected people, as well as death, are growing fast in Italy, while most of the European nations are seeing a similar alarming rise. The United States tops the list of infected people, while China, where the Coronavirus first had appeared has claimed to have succeeded in containing the further spread of this virus.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who long resisted the social distancing, is now isolating himself immediately after being diagnosed with being infected with Coronavirus. Staying in isolation, Mr. Johnson is said to be continuing to led his country’s response to the pandemic.

British Prime Minister’s diagnosis, confirmed in a test on Thursday, threatened to throw an already rattled British government into turmoil. Fears of a wider contagion grew, as two other senior officials disclosed that they, too, were infected.

And with the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, saying this week that he had fallen ill with the virus, Britain faced the alarming prospect of having to confront its greatest crisis since World War II with several of its leading figures in quarantine.

Other world leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, have put themselves in isolation as a precaution in recent days.

Meanwhile, more than 80 poor and middle-income countries have sought financial help from the International Monetary Fund in recent weeks as they struggle to cope with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 epidemic.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the IMF, said the world economy had entered a recession “as bad or worse” than the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and that the fund needed to increase its firepower to deal with the unprecedented number of requests for help.

The IMF is particularly concerned about the risk of a new debt crisis among the world’s poorest countries, and Georgieva said there was pressure on all creditors – including the private sector – to work out a solution before it was too late.

While the world is struggling in saving people from the notorious Coronavirus, tensions have been brewing for weeks between Washington and Beijing over who is to blame for the outbreak. China continues to deny that the virus originated there while top US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have pointed the finger directly at Beijing.

US officials have long been skeptical about information coming from China, including the number of cases it has publicly reported, but the diplomatic row between the two countries has escalated in recent days.

Despite his initial praise for Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump has struck a more critical tone of late regarding Beijing’s handling of the outbreak and efforts to shift blame onto the US.

The ongoing war of words has been fueled by allegations from top administration officials that China is actively spreading disinformation about the virus’ origins in an effort to cast blame on the US, and other nations, for the current global pandemic.

Some of the top policymakers even in the United States are not willing to call it a Chinese Virus. Instead, they call it coronavirus of Covid-19. But they are willing to know, wherefrom this virus has first spread. According to information, coronavirus first started spreading from the wildlife markets in Wuhan and it continued to spread beyond control outside of China. Health experts say, for nearly two months, there were many things China could have done to contain the virus, but they have failed to do that.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have put the blame on the United States saying the virus was brought in China by the US military.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the US Army may have “brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” fueling a coronavirus conspiracy theory.

He called attention to a comment from Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledging that some Americans who were said to have died from influenza may have actually died from COVID-19.

“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected?” Zhao wrote on Twitter. “What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation”!

Responding to the allegation of the Chinese Foreign Ministry official, Alyssa Farah in a Tweet said, “As a global crisis, COVID-19 shd [should] be an area of cooperation between nations. Instead, the Communist Party of China has chosen to promulgate false & absurd conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 blaming U.S. service members”.

One popular coronavirus conspiracy theory that has emerged in China is that US military athletes participating in the Military World Games in Wuhan last year may have brought the virus into China. There is, however, no evidence to support this accusation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of videos are being circulated in the social media putting blame on China for creating coronavirus in their secret labs and later spreading it into the world. Such conspiracy theories are mostly being circulated from India in particular by various individuals, which includes expensive animated videos. Most possibly, it is not likely that various individuals are spending hugely in making these animated videos.

It may be mentioned here that, some of the conspiracy theory-mongers even are putting the blame on Israel.

Whatever may be the fact about the origin of Covid-19 or coronavirus, it is a reality by now that the entire world is already horrified at its massive spread. Affected nations are losing hundreds of millions of dollars, which would ultimately leave huge stress on the economy, thus creating a tremendous recession in the global economy in the post-coronavirus era.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally known multi-award-winning journalist and editor of Blitz.

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