Coronavirus outbreak: how much responsibility lies with the Chinese leaders?

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The coronavirus has been on the news recently, with almost 3,000 people in China now confirmed ill and 81 people dead as a result. What’s shocking about this virus is that it is basically the same virus that causes the common cold except, in these cases, it causes severe respiratory problems leading to death.

But what does this have to do with politicians and power, you may be asking?

I wanted to look at this from the angle of the Chinese government and what they have done to stop the spread of the virus. They have now shut down many transport networks, as they should do to prevent the spread of the disease, but have they done this too late? There are at least 44 confirmed cases of the disease outside China already, which would indicate to me that the government acted far too slowly.

The first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan on 31st December 2019 and, on the same day, the Chinese government reported this to the WHO (The World Health Organisation). On 1st January, they closed down the market in which they thought the virus originated. On 7th January, the WHO identified the disease as being caused by the coronavirus and on 23rd January some travel restrictions were put in place. However this suspension of transport was not widespread, which allowed the virus to continue to spread. It wasn’t until yesterday that China’s Vice Minister of Transport- Lie Xiaoming- announced that public transport had been completed suspended in China to control the outbreak.

My initial thought was that the Chinese government acted too late and didn’t take enough responsibility for something which could potentially affect the whole world, but then I started to think about why they might have acted the way they did.

To shut down all transport earlier would have been very disruptive to the country as a whole and would have caused people to get frightened, possibly even causing mass hysteria. They needed to wait until they were sure of the seriousness of the situation before taking such a drastic step. They did report the outbreak to the World Health Organisation so presumably they were taking advice from experts into infectious disease.

So is the Chinese Government responsible for the potential epidemic? Should they have acted quicker or did they act in the best interest of the Chinese people? Could they have used their power to do more to prevent this from happening? And if so, what consequences (if any) should there be for those who didn’t take the correct decisions.

What do you think?

Comments (15)

  • tom Tom @ the BNC
    27 Jan 2020

    Well done for linking this to our topic - do you have any links to help us understand whether politicians could have / should be doing something different? Have you read anything else's opinion on this?

    Reply to this comment
  • Ormiston Sudbury Academy openminded_llama | Ormiston Sudbury Academy
    28 Jan 2020

    I think that more needs to be said about this particular topic.

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      openminded_llama's comment 28 Jan 2020

      What would you like to say about it?

      Reply to this comment
  • Graveney-logo-250x250.jpg incredible_meerkat | Graveney School
    29 Jan 2020

    The Chinese should of acted quicker because if one person is sick and dies and more than 10 people suffer from that then they should take heed and check what is happening. If they had warned people, then more people would take precaution and the virus would have eventually stopped. Luckily we have internet, through this, the hospital posted the news of the audit speed. Next time the Chinese government need to learn from their mistakes.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Tiff-Avatar.jpg Tiff @ the BNC
      incredible_meerkat's comment 29 Jan 2020

      How difficult is it to respond to a virus outbreak? Can you imagine some of the challenges a government might face in their response?

      Reply to this comment
      1. Graveney-logo-250x250.jpg incredible_meerkat | Graveney School
        Tiff @ the BNC's comment 03 Feb 2020

        I think it might be very difficult however if you but it on a most watched website (such as Instagram, News, BBC or even Twitter) then it will definitely turn into a big cause. However some people don't really care as it is not happening to them, their family and their friends. Some people will turn it into a joke. First the politicians and the Prime Minister should make the area and world like them and then they should post things. Everyone will then listen to them with confidence.

        Reply to this comment
      2. CuddingtonCroft-logo-250x250.jpg tough_donkey | Cuddington Croft Primary School
        Tiff @ the BNC's comment 03 Feb 2020

        It is extremely difficult to respond to a virus outbreak. Firstly, the virus has an incubation period of approximately 14 days, then the symptoms of this infection are the same as a common cold and for these reasons might go undetected, until it manifests as a severe case. Under a severe case, this is where a patient would be admitted to a hospital and samples taken to identify the strain of virus. Then, to identify a strain can take anywhere between 2-14 days, depending on the growth of the virus. All of the above aspects can delay any government from knowing that they have a potential pandemic on their hands and from taking any action.

        China is the hub of manufacturing goods such as electronics, clothing , footwear and even for medicines. It has many trade deals across the world. Therefore, to shut down all transport in China would have a severe impact not only locally but also globally and is a decision not to be taken lightly.

        My concern is directed more towards the UK government allowing 200 British citizens a flight back from China. Imagine if one of those passengers was infected with the virus and then spread it to the other 199 passengers and also the air crew. I think it would have been better to quarantine the passengers in China for the 14 days so that it could be identified which passengers were infected with the disease. This would also prevent the disease travelling to other countries.

        Reply to this comment
        1. tom Tom @ the BNC
          tough_donkey's comment 04 Feb 2020

          Great thinking, tough_donkey. You've considered a lot of factors that goes into a situation like this. Do you think the Chinese government acted quickly and decisively enough?

          Reply to this comment
  • CuddingtonCroft-logo-250x250.jpg tough_donkey | Cuddington Croft Primary School
    05 Feb 2020

    Initially, I was of the opinion that the Chinese government acted quickly, as within weeks of the first reported case (31st Dec 2019) it had made the tough decision to shut down all transport from Wuhan and nearby cities. This was a very drastic decision to control the virus from spreading, as even with the more deadly SARs virus, which occurred in China in 2002, they didn't shut down the transport system.

    However, there are now suggestions of earlier reports of this particular virus within China, but apparently the doctors were told not to officially report these due to other political events occurring. If this is the case then I think the Chinese government acted irresponsibly and potentially could have acted faster.

    Secondly, the market stall in Wuhan, China, where the disease originates from, was know for trading illegal animals and the government didn't do anything about it. The disease then spread from animals to humans and had the government shut their business earlier, then the virus potentially may never have occurred in humans.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      tough_donkey's comment 06 Feb 2020

      A thorough response which shows a good interest in going beyond a headline and researching further. Well done!

      Reply to this comment
  • Portobello-logo-250x250.jpg incredible_banjo | Portobello High School
    06 Feb 2020

    The Chinese government is not telling the truth about the coronavirus in my opinion , and they are being quite secretive about it too I think.

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  • Lyons Hall Primary School bustling_leaf | Lyons Hall Primary School A
    10 Feb 2020

    In my opinion the Chinese government isn't being honest and that is turning into something that is called "the plague" because it is effecting the whole world and it all started because of one simple thing and could've been made by the simple and common cold.

    Reply to this comment
  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    19 Mar 2020

    When the virus was at it's peak in China the Chinese government said it was doing everything it could. But is this really true? What else do you have to consider before coming to a conclusion? Evidence suggests that a Chinese doctor called Li began warning other doctors online that a virus similar to SARS was infecting people in the hospital where he worked. Soon after that, the Chinese authorities silenced him and questioned him about how he got the information and then after that questioned him about why he shared the information. The Chinese authorities also made him and some of his friends sign a document that stated that he must not share anymore information that is about or is related to the virus. But then, just over two weeks later, the virus that Li had been telling people about broke out in Wuhan province in China. He also contracted the virus and died. This shows that if China had acted when Li said there was a virus going round in the hospital more lives might have been saved and the spread might have slowed down. This is why I think a lot of the responsibility regarding the severity and spread of the Coronavirus lies with China.

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      versatile_molecule's comment 20 Mar 2020

      Could you provide where you saw the 'evidence' that you mention in your fourth sentence, versatile_molecule? It's also important that when we suggest responsibility lies with a country, we refer to their government rather than the country, so we don't make people think we mean the country as a whole.

      Reply to this comment
  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    20 Mar 2020

    Here is where I found the infomation:, I will remember your advice for next time.

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