As Chinese coronavirus claims more victims, PETER FRANKOPAN examines the lesson from the past

Mail Online | 1/20/2020 | Peter Frankopan For The Daily Mail
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The nightmare is all too real. A man arrives at a health centre, complaining of a sore throat, fever and headache. Another person arrives soon after; then another. By lunchtime, there are dozens; within a week, hundreds.

The winter months usually see an onset of influenza. But this time far more people than normal are infected.

Thing - Flu - Virus - Flourishes - Immune

That is not the only strange thing. Usually, the flu virus flourishes among the young and the old, with less robust immune systems. But those turning up to see the doctor are primarily in the prime of life, aged 20 to 40, who usually have no problem seeing off what is usually a seasonal bug.

Soon it becomes clear that something is very wrong. It turns out that those who are sick are not coming just to one hospital in a single town; they are turning up everywhere. Literally everywhere. All over the world. A quarter of the world’s population report symptoms. And then people start dying. In large numbers.

Scale - US - Third - Population - Hundreds

The scale is frightening. In the U.S., where a third of the population are infected, hundreds of thousands die. India pays a terrible price as 18 million succumb.

This is no Hollywood blockbuster, hoping to scare its way to box office success. This is what happened 100 years ago as the Spanish flu took hold.

January - End - Year - People - End

Between January 1918 and the end of the following year, 500 million people had become infected. By the end of the outbreak, perhaps as many as five per cent of all the men, women and children on the planet lay dead.

Only a century on, no wonder health officials have been so concerned about the emergence of ‘2019-CoV’, a new strain of coronavirus that emerged recently in the city of Wuhan in China and which has infected more than 200 people, killing at least three.

The true...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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