Why we soldier on
Updated 20:20, 11-Feb-2020
Zou Yue , Zoom In with Zou Yue

Close contact, droplet and aerosol. These words are part of our everyday conversation, not just this last month. These are the ways that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted, but do we really understand what we're talking about? What if we don't?

The novel coronavirus pneumonia, or NCP, has infected tens of thousands of people around the world and killed hundreds already. This could easily be the most challenging public health crisis over the past decade. People demand clarity and direction. But unfortunately clarity may be only wishful thinking.

This is a battle between trust and doubt. Viruses spread fast, but what travels even faster is people's fear.

Humans easily fall prey to misinformation and distrust. People already have begun to turn against each other and doubt government, even scientists. It is no longer easy to be rational. But still it is in our best interests to put our faith in them because they have the best information.

But the reason people trust them is not only because they are the best informed, we believe they would make the best efforts and make them out of a clear conscience.

Dr. Li Wenliang and other doctors sounded the alarm early in January about the virus, although they wrongly called it SARS. But the local government decided to wait. We now know it was a wrong call, and we know it because of the benefit of hindsight. You may say Dr. Li knew it and the government would not listen. The fact of the matter is that it's a hard call. Every decision on epidemic control is a hard call.

The dilemma is that on one hand you have to communicate the most accurate, complete and updated information to the public, and on the other you don't want to stoke panic in a very nervous crowd. That takes skills and guts.

But in the end it is a battle between humans and virus. And we have to admit that despite the best science and the most advanced technologies, we are not invincible facing the most primitive organism. We don't have a cure, we don't have a vaccine yet and we are not even sure how it spreads so fast and what it takes to stop it. There are more questions than answers.

We turn to the oldest wisdom that proved effective: isolation. That is painful and costly. But it seems it is the price the Chinese are ready and willing to pay. The government has been mobilizing all the resources it can pool together, but resources are depleting every day. And people are suffering.

So you are saying even with the best efforts, we may still suffer? Yes, I am saying even though we try hard, we are still vulnerable. But we still soldier on not to have peace with nature, no, that is a constant battle, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. This is meant to have peace with ourselves, with our conscience.

This is an imperfect world and science is imperfect. What we can do is try our best. And that is happening in hundreds of ICUs in Wuhan, tens of thousands of wards in Hubei and every household in China. And the world should have faith in this country that it's doing everything it can to make the best out of a horrifying epidemic. 

And in doing that, we may have a chance to save China and the world from paying a higher price.

Script: Zou Yue

Video editors: Feng Ran, Keerqinfu

Designer: Keerqinfu

Producer: Bi Jianlu

Supervisor: Mei Yan

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