“In a sparse report on January 11, 2020, China confirmed its first death from an unknown virus - a 61-year-old man who was a regular at the now-notorious Wuhan wet market linked to many of the early cases. The world would soon become grimly familiar with the disease that killed him as Covid. Little is still known about the first victim, including his name, while the market where the first reported clusters of cases were traced back to has remained closed, surrounded by boarding. Independent experts are yet to be granted access to the market or retrace in detail those early days of the virus in Wuhan.” The Guardian
A Little More History
“Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province. A novel coronavirus was eventually identified.”
“On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. As of 3 January 2020, a total of 44 patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology have been reported to WHO by the national authorities in China. Of the 44 cases reported, 11 are severely ill, while the remaining 33 patients are in stable condition. Based on the preliminary information from the Chinese investigation team, no evidence of significant human-to-human transmission and no health care worker infections have been reported. WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travellers. In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel, travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention. ” WHO Archives
Since I would be traveling internationally within the following 30 days, I remember noticing the quick mention about a “new virus” on the evening US National News. I told my husband that that a “strange new” virus, that caught the WHO's attention, was something to at least watch. AIDS, Ebola, and SARS all had popped up out of nowhere during my lifetime. So I felt it would be foolish to at least not keep an eye on the news (if anything more happened) concerning a novel, human, respiratory virus. My husband called me nuts to even think anything about it.
If I hadn’t had travel plans, I might not have at that point. And I really didn’t think much more about things until the first human death happened a year ago to today. By that point, there then was talk about this new virus spreading quickly in China. By the 3rd week in January there was little doubt that something serious was going on that was affecting others beyond China. China was also building two 1,000 bed temporary hospitals to handle overflow of people sick from the new, nameless virus. Still, I never really imagined the problem would actually ever reach the USA with more than a couple of random cases at most.
Frankly, I was more concerned about travel exposure. The last time I was in China in 2018, I came down with a horrible respiratory virus from Shanghai that required emergency medical care once I reached Hong Kong. That nasty virus kept me in bed round the clock (extremely ill & weak as a kitten) with repeat medical care for over a week. I was traveling alone without my husband. Long distance phone calls had to comfort me at night… Texts during the day. Still, even as sick as I was, I knew I would recover. However, the after effects of that virus lingered for months afterwards. Who knows what that virus was? It wasn’t COVID. Still, my personal experience with a nameless Chinese virus is probably why I more quickly became concerned (than most other Americans) about whatever this “new thing” was in China.
Today, we now know that China and WHO were totally wrong about the Chinese respiratory virus that was “new & novel” in December 2019. They were wrong about it not being human to human contagious.
The first known case of the new virus had reached the USA by January 20th. With assurances from our president & his health officials, most people in the USA (myself included) still weren’t concerned. However, as the virus situation worsened in China and then start to spread widely to other countries, I did finally cancel my 6 week long trip to Australia and New Zealand. Although I really didn’t expect problems, a sixth sense told me that I really should postpone my plans. Although telling myself that I was being ridiculous, I listened to that 6th sense that has kept me out of trouble in the past. Later, I discovered that had I gone on my trip as planned, I would have gotten caught up in the desperate panic of people fighting to get back to the USA with this novel virus nipping at their heels. I know that many of those people did get critically ill & some died.
Life in the USA went on as normal until March when the new virus caused a National “lock down.” My husband started to tele commute on March 16th. Being self employed, I started to stay home myself even 8 days before that.
We’ve now been living in “Safer-at-Home” social isolation for over 10 months. The virus situation for the World (and for the USA in particular) is more severe than anyone could have imagined a year ago when a brand new virus, that now is named COVID-19, claimed its first life far away in China. In a very short period of time, things have since become unimaginable. One can only pray that a second year will bring this pandemic to an end. However to date, nothing seems to be stopping it. Things have only gotten worse. Hopefully, the vaccines will help. Hopefully… Right now, we’re all living in what seems like one of those “end of the world” disaster movies.
Meanwhile, I do remember last year on this day. A lone lost life to the virus was a world tragedy. Now, well over 9 BILLION lost lives in the world to COVID have just become numbers that are too big to comprehend. The world has grown numb. The virus seems to be winning.