In 1918 a bird flu pandemic killed 50 million people worldwide, give or take a few. How it was handled gives us a great illustration when it comes to enacting quarantines. It happened on the island of Samoa. In those days, Samoa was still not an independent nation. The eastern half was under US control and was basically used as a naval station. The western half of Samoa was a shipping colony under New Zealand’s control. There was no border wall or anything dramatic separating eastern and western Samoa. It was just under two separate territorial controllers.
When word of the deadly 1918 flu reached Samoa, there were two different reactions. The New Zealand governor did nothing, because he didn’t have orders to do anything. He didn’t want to upset or overstep his superiors, so the ships kept docking and the crews kept coming ashore as usual.
In eastern Samoa, the general in charge of the naval station didn’t worry about orders, chain of command or anything else. The flu sounded scary, so he imposed an automatic quarantine on all ships docking in his harbor (no commercial flights to worry about in those days). No one came off the boats until several days had passed and they had been declared flu-free.
The New Zealand half of the island of Samoa lost 24% of its population to the flu. It struck down both elites and commoners, young and old, men and women. The American half of Samoa recorded zero flu deaths throughout the epidemic. The next flu death recorded in eastern Samoa didn’t happen until 1921, right at the very tail end of the 1918 epidemic. (Maybe a sick person had finally walked across to the other side of the island.)
The point is: Quarantines are very effective if you impose them early and rigorously. If you don’t impose them, the result can be catastrophic.
Next, the Harvard professor arrested for selling secrets to China is out on bail. Here’s the background info on Dr. Charles Lieber.
The Harvard professor and world’s leading nanoscientist is accused by the federal government of taking a $50,000 a month salary from the Chinese government, receiving $1.5 million from the Chinese to set up a secret nanotechnology laboratory in Wuhan (where the coronavirus outbreak originated), and encouraging other scientific colleagues to sell American technology secrets to the Chinese.
He had to post a $1 million bond to get out of jail, which I guess he could afford. The court has also imposed a $20,000 withdrawal limit on his bank accounts, declaring him a flight risk.
That’s all we know about Dr. Lieber’s case at this point. I remain skeptical about the coincidence of Lieber’s arrest, his ties to Wuhan and the possible links to the coronavirus. If we learn more, we’ll let you know.
Officials have now abandoned the ridiculous theory that the virus originated in bat soup. Not that I’m recommending you add bat soup back into your diet at this point. I suspect this was a theory they latched onto because some of the nasty viruses that originated in Africa recently, such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014, did originate from eating bats.
Lesson: Probably don’t eat bats, whether fried or in soup form.
The official worldwide death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus as of this writing stands at more than 1300, spread out over a period of several weeks. Keep in mind that we had 660 Americans dying daily from regular flu season in the winter of 2017-2018 and lost a total of about 80,000 Americans to the flu that year – and the media never mentioned it a single time.
Another fact to note and this could be very serious:
One “US citizen” has apparently died of coronavirus in Wuhan, but we don’t know anything about the person yet. Were they a Chinese US citizen, or non-Chinese? We simply don’t know. But in all of the other deaths throughout the world, in every situation the victim has been Chinese.
It’s still too early to know for certain, but with the facts that we have to date, this coronavirus is looking more and more like a genetically modified bioweapon that was engineered to specifically target people of Chinese ancestry. People of other racial backgrounds are not getting as sick from it and are not dying, at least at this point.
And don’t take that as a suggestion to not prepare if you happen to be non-Chinese. We’re not even vaguely Chinese in my household, and we still have a supply of masks and non-perishables stored in case we have to hunker down for a while. Stay safe out there, everyone.