Coronavirus: Why Communication Is Key

Currently, more than 2000 people have been infected over the globe, with at least 259 deaths in China already, which are still continuing to rise daily. The Coronavirus is on the move very rapidly and is not slowing down which puts China in a public health crisis. The mysterious disease is becoming more serious and more complex than anyone could have imagined.

A Chinese Health Official warned that even though it is already extremely contagious, it could accelerate even faster and get even more people ill. Currently, 11,791 people have fallen ill in China alone and the virus is spreading around the world at an alarming rate. Cases are currently reported in the U.S.A., Canada, Thailand, Japan, France, Germany, Australia, South Korea and it is expected to carry to more countries in the near future.

Wuhan is a city in China where the infection originally started from, with 1000 more cases to be reported from the center point city. The mayor, Zhou Xianwang, has stated that a reason for many more cases to be expected is because 5 million people evacuated the city before it was illegal to do so.

According to the Chinese National Health Commissioner, one of the reasons it is spreading so quickly is because someone that is infected but showing no signs of symptoms can still be contagious to others.

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has promised that they will do everything in their power to contain the virus. The National Government has since then banned wildlife trades. Little research has been done on the unknown virus, but there are strong links between the sale of exotic animals and the epidemic.

The 50 million people in Hubei Province, where the capital city of Wuhan is located, were on lockdown last Sunday. They only have very limited intercity buses traveling and tour groups are halted at this stage. The number of infected people could increase very rapidly if the government does not put strict action plans in place.

A major issue is that even though the government officials can do everything possible to contain it, the responsibility ultimately is placed on local officials because they will perform the majority of the tasks the government has set out. There are growing concerns that the local officials may lack the ability to respond appropriately and cause different outcomes of the policies.

An example of this is that according to the New York Times the Wuhan officials were overwhelmed with the new restrictions of driving within the city limits during the lockdown. Authorities of the city said that cars need to stay off the roads and that 6,000 taxis would be available to deliver food and medicine as needed. Then the citizens were also told that drivers would be notified if they are not allowed on the roads but nobody reported to have received this message. My understanding,” one police officer said, “is that you can drive in your district if you don’t get a text message telling you that you can’t. But you should check that with the transport authorities.”

This is a clear example of just how important communication is in crises like this to achieve the policies set out. Government officials can put policies in place to protect citizens but will not be achieved to their full potential unless the communication is clear and consistent. After all this confusion, most drivers stayed off the roads but as needs grew more people went on to the street and no officials did anything about it apparently.

Li Xiandu, a retired business manager said “Now is not the time for recriminations, the local government wasn’t forthcoming with information and didn’t take vigorous enough measures. But we need to get through this first, and then we can assign blame.”

Isabella Patrick