Yes, Covid-19 originates in China, but it’s globalisation that took the virus on a world tour.
The deadly coronavirus spread across the globe from one place to another through business travellers and tourists enabled by a globalised world, spreading to over 200 countries and killing tens of thousands.
Most virus-hit countries have locked down and quarantined to varying degrees to stop the epidemic in their respective nations.
A close examination of data coming from virus hotspots shows that the first confirmed cases have always been related to foreign visitors or natives, who came back from a trip outside their country.
Despite the conspiracy theory originating in China that blames US soldiers for starting the epidemic, everyone agrees that the source country of the virus is China.
In December, Covid-19 emerged from a wet market in Wuhan, one of China’s biggest cities, and spread to different corners of China with Hubei province the hardest hit.
The holiday season for the Lunar New Year, helped the virus spread across the country as hundreds of millions travelled to their hometowns to spend time with loved ones. This was the perfect storm for the virus to spread.
According to a New York Times analysis, just on January 1, nearly 200,000 people left Wuhan for their holidays. By the time the Chinese government implemented strict travel restrictions, seven million had already left the origin city in the first month of the year, spreading the contagion far and wide.
In the following months, other countries were on the line, waiting on a visit from the virus.
On January 31, Italy reported its first Covid-19 case in its historic and tourist-filled capital, Rome, after two Chinese tourists confirmed positive. They flew to Italy through a Milan airport and then travelled to Rome by land. Italy’s third case was an Italian who had been repatriated from China's Wuhan.
In February, the country reported its first coronavirus-related death and the virus had already spread to the cities of Lombardy and Veneto in northern Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean state.
The European Union’s fourth-largest economy now has the highest death toll globally at over 17,000. It’s important to remember that Italy hosts a large population of older citizens and a strong family value system that emphasises large gatherings.
The virus has quickly found its way from Italy to other European countries, making the country the epicentre of the continent’s pandemic.
From Italy, the virus moved to Germany, the continent’s largest economy, as Berlin confirmed its early cases in late February related to Italy. But the first officially confirmed case originated in China anyway as one of the country’s car manufacturer company employees was infected by a Chinese co-worker.
The other first four cases in Germany emerged after a 25-year old man came back from a trip from Italy’s Milan.
Several of Germany’s other initial cases also originated not from China but from Austria, where some Germans were holidaying in ski resorts, according to experts.
But Germany has a robust social security coverage backed by a strong public health system. As a result, it has been able to fend off some of the devastating challenges the virus has generated across the globe, by testing a lot of citizens and placing early social distancing measures across the country.
While Germany has the fourth highest number of cases in the world, its death rate is lower than 2 percent. In Italy, the country’s fatality rate is nearly 10 percent.
But the virus continued to travel from Germany to other countries like Spain, whose confirmed cases have now surpassed Italy’s, putting it at number two after the US. At the time of writing Spain has almost the identical amount of deaths as the US, with the US having the highest number.
A German tourist in the Canary Islands, an autonomous region of Spain, brought the virus to Spain after testing positive on January 31. Other Spanish cases followed in late February after an Italian doctor and some visitors of Italy were also tested positive.
The destructive waves of the coronavirus outbreak have also badly hit the shores of some other countries including the US, the UK, France and Iran, all of whose first confirmed cases originated in China.
In the US, the country’s first confirmed case was located in Seattle, a city in the northwestern state of Washington. According to federal health officials, the confirmed case travelled from Wuhan to Washington state, testing positive on January 31, five days after the patient reached the state from China.
Two months after the first case, now the US has the highest number of cases with more than 400,000. Its death toll is also rapidly increasing and the top officials of the country have pretty much resigned to grim estimates of deaths hovering around 200,000.
The virus in the UK has led to the country’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson being hospitalised in intensive care. As the virus was raging across the world, Johnson appeared to believe that he had a natural immunity toward the virus, continuing to shake hands with known coronavirus carriers. As of April 8, his country lost more than 6,000 citizens to the virus.
The UK also reported its first case on January 31, when two members of a family of Chinese nationals were tested positive in York. Both persons came to the UK from China’s Hubei province.
France announced its first confirmed cases on January 25, which is little earlier than other hard-hit countries.
Paris, the popular tourist destination, confirmed that its first five cases of the coronavirus were related to individuals, who came to France from China.
On January 28, a Chinese tourist contracting the virus was hospitalised in Paris and passed away on February 14, making it the first Chinese death outside the country, and also the first virus fatality outside Asia.
France is now the fifth-worst country in the world in terms of confirmed cases and fourth in deaths.
Iran, which has been a virus hotspot since the very early stages of the pandemic, also apparently got its first confirmed case from China. Tehran has already been hit by harsh sanctions imposed by the US as the country struggles with a declining economy.
The pandemic has taken nearly 4,000 lives in Iran.
More than a half dozen countries, which include Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, have reportedly traced their early virus cases to the country.