This is not the first time all the countries around the globe are battling an epidemic. “Black Death” aka plague had wiped out 50% of the population wherever it struck in the 15th century. A disease caused by fleas in rodents which could survive cold and hot weather alike without food for months. Epidemics during the medieval period spread more slowly because the only route for rodents to get transported from one continent to another was through water, via shipment of goods and consignments. It took days if not months for an epidemic to spread. In the 21st century, people fly, and days have turned into hours when it comes to transmission of diseases. Another point to note is that the plague was spread by bacteria. COVID-19 is caused by a virus. Viruses are packets of DNA. Bacterias evolve at a very slow rate, while viruses evolve rapidly. Scientists record evolution in viruses every year.
In 1974, India was hit by one of the worst epidemics. Smallpox, an acute contagious disease, had caused 15,000 deaths between January and May 1974. India had the highest number of smallpox cases in the world. Yet again, in 1994, Surat, Gujarat was the epicenter of another epidemic. The government wasn’t sure how to handle the epidemic. People had started killing rats in villages, increasing the problem because fleas could find new hosts. Journalists were offered free travel and stay to gauge the situation, but many refused. Local newspapers reported even minor fever as plague cases which just led to pandemonium among people. Insecticides were dusted over large areas to kill rats and fleas. Ports were fumigated. Gradually, things were back in control and life returned to normal.
Ebola, another deadly virus with a high fatality was first recorded in the year 1976 in Africa. This virus was transmitted to humans through bats. Though the mortality rate was high Ebola could be transmitted only in the case of exchanging blood fluid. The patient was isolated in a single room and chances of community transmission was pretty low. Unlike coronavirus, a waterborne disease that gets transmitted through small droplets from the nose or mouth when the person sneezes or coughs or through close personal contact, such as shaking or touching hands.
There is no remedy yet for COVID-19 and the only way to curb the virus is by reducing community transmission. Many countries have locked down their borders and their governments have urged people to quarantine themselves at home. It is every individual’s responsibility to follow norms for global good.