By Morgan Morton
As the Coronavirus spreads across the world the panic that accompanies it is indeed reasonable. Since the outbreak countless schools in Europe have closed, sanitary products are in high demand, and everyone is anxious about the wellbeing of themselves and others.
460 cases have been confirmed and 10 people have died in the UK alone.
The concern in South Wales has grown as the number of cases has doubled in under 2 weeks. However, this is not the first time that Wales has been consumed by mass hysteria in response to a viral outbreak.
Some may remember the 1962 smallpox epidemic that rapidly spread in South Wales. A situation that was so severe the region was gripped by fear. 19 deaths were recorded and 900,000 people were vaccinated during this time.
The source of this contagion was Shuka Mia who arrived in Cardiff from Pakistan in January 1962 and was diagnosed with the disease. Former USW lecturer James Stewart during his career as a TV journalist researched the outbreak to mark its 50th anniversary.
He appealed to anyone with information via social media and searched for information in the national archive. Stewart published the information he found on Smallpox1962 day by day from the exact moment the epidemic started to the day that it was declared to have run its course. A modern time capsule of sorts.
As Stewart delved into the story for answers more questions surfaced. Questions surrounding who had the virus as well as how they got it.
Despite the fact patient zero arrived in Cardiff, no one was infected in the city. A medical consultant from Rhondda who had not been vaccinated caught it from a woman who passed away during childbirth. No one knows how she was infected in Rhondda especially while being “heavily” pregnant and not travelling recently.
The horror of being diagnosed had a major effect on the community and their outlook for the future.
The coronavirus is having a similar effect on society today. This outbreak has been recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and everyone is frightened of the outcome it may bring.
Compared to previous outbreaks such as SARS, swine flu, and Ebola the coronavirus is more widespread but less people are dying from it compared to the other contagions.
The coronavirus is spread through respiratory fluids such as saliva and mucus which explains why it has spread so quickly. Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough can help ease the spread of the virus.
Contrary to popular belief surgical masks do not stop the wearer from contracting the virus but if they are infected it stops them from spreading it to others.
Practising basic hygiene is also valuable and can help improve the current conditions.
Cases in China are starting to lessen where the outbreak originally started. They have introduced safety measures and promoted self isolation to those who may be infected.
Aria Bendix, senior science reporter for Business Insider says that if countries such as the US, Japan, Italy, and South Korea follow suit and enforce the same measures that the circumstances will start to improve.