It was still winter in a remote suburban town in China. Wu Gongfu, a local government employee was standing at a queue in a hospital. He was there to admit his mother, a 70-year-old lady. She was sick for 4 days now with flu-like symptoms, which refused to go away even after tough medication.
He wasn't alone though. Several people were huddled up at the hospital entrance, maintaining the queue in almost perfect order. Most of them looked sick, had a bad dry cough and even some carried a fever.
The doctors diagnosed Wu's mother with a bad case of pneumonia. Little did he know what could unfold in the coming weeks.
What followed is a piece of common knowledge now. Wu's whole city district was closed down. Shops and establishments ceased their operations. One of the smaller manufacturing hubs, Wuhan, slowed down at first, and then came a complete halt. Stock prices of American firms tumbled in the reaction.
Many since have argued that China's reaction was heavy-handed. They carried out this operation with a commendable efficiency, which included building a hospital in less than two weeks. Over 60 million people were quarantined, international travel from the province ceased, although that might have been too late.
Coronavirus episode that we are experiencing today could have been a good plot of a seat gripping Hollywood movie. But unlike movies which mostly end in a positive note, we are not so positive about the end yet.
Is the appropriate response is because it is a disease of the rich?
Experts are now claiming that the virus is not native to humans, and could have come from some other species. Coronavirus is a class of viruses that are mostly found in bats. Back when SARS was an epidemic, the same kind of virus had attacked humans, and that time it was concluded that it might have come from bats.
Covid 19, the name which comes from Coronavirus of 2019, is believed to also have come from bats, but scientists now suspect that it could have hitchhiked to a pangolin first. The culprit? China's exotic meat trade.
The twist here - exotic meat is mostly marketed and eaten by the rich, a vast majority of the population of China doesn't consume it. Plus, the virus has mostly spread to other countries by international travellers, all of whom fall in the pretty well off category.
The more interesting thing about this issue is that people in power have been affected by it - from health minister in Iran to the first lady in Canada.
One could argue that the response that we are seeing here today could have been influenced by the people who got mostly effected.
Will we see an equivalent response for climate change, which is way ahead in the future and currently doesn't affect the affluent?
The appropriate response given to Covid 10 was influenced by its urgency. When you have an exponentially growing amount of people getting effected every day, the pressure mounts and most responsible governments take appropriate actions.
While Climate Change is way ahead in the future. People don't feel the urgency for it, just as yet. Also, it will require a more of a permanent change, while Coronavirus outbreak is temporary. People can change a bit if they know that the conditions will be there only for a few weeks or months.
The worst victims of climate change will be the world's poor. The island nations are mostly small and don't have much international influence. Whether the majority of the people and in turn their governments will care for the people is indeed a matter of concern.