The desolation that comes with novel diseases appears to be stoic of one’s surroundings. This is a case of my experience in two different environments affected by two various conditions, respectively, at different points in time. I am from Liberia, a country of about 4.73 million people located on the West Coast of Africa. Like China, my current country of study in East Asia that is battling the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Liberia experienced the Ebola virus for the first time in 2014. Even though Ebola has existed in other regions before Liberia’s outbreak, the virus was a new phenomenon for the population of Liberia.
Liberia, a country that had only witnessed a decade of uninterrupted peace at the time in 2014, was severely hit by the Ebola virus. There was almost nothing left unscathed by the virus. The economy which had to begin to show steady growth was crushed severely by the presence of the virus. Our culture of communal living was disrupted by fear of infection by our families, loved ones, neighbours, and co-workers. At the onset of the Ebola virus, our health system was rattled with chaos leaving everyone in a state of hopelessness. Howbeit, two things kept us awake as a nation till this day – the resilience of our medical practitioners and the entire population, and the outpouring of support from the world. Had it not been for these two factors, our community stood the risk of decimation.
Additionally, the world stood with the people of Liberia to overcome the disease. China was one of the first few countries that donated medical supplies and gears to the people of Liberia. There was an influx of foreign doctors and nurses from states and international health organizations, including the WHO and CDC, who helped the locals to fight the disease. There were also support for governance, economic revitalization, social services, and infrastructure.
Fast forward, here’s to another contagious outbreak as a resident student of this great and welcoming country (China) that has changed and uplifted many countries as it relates to education and developmental infrastructures. One would have expected that having experienced the Ebola virus, the fear of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) would not have been intense. This expectation may even seem reasonable because of the difference in the environment – China has a more sophisticated health system and active policies. However, the despair I felt during the early days of this Corona Virus (COVID-19) was characteristic of the one experienced during the days of Ebola.
I first panicked on hearing news of the Coronavirus in the last months and took reflection down memory lane on the fear for my life after experiencing first-hand how an unknown disease can be deadly. Importantly, the behavioural pattern of adjustment in self-confidence after a period of concern seems to be shared as well. My anxiety seems to have reduced because of curative and preventive measures implemented by the Government and People of mainland China. The brave act carried out by China, barricading one of their most commercial cities where the outbreak started, can’t be overemphasized. One essential rule to keep international and local students at home is a step in the right direction and appears to be effective.
I am also amazed by the unity of other countries to support China in fighting the Coronavirus. Most notably, the solidarity contribution of $2 million US dollars from the Government of Equatorial Guinea to China has heightened my spirit about the need for Africa to reciprocate and stand with China in battling the Coronavirus. The growing interest of many countries in researching the virus to discover preventive and curative medication makes me optimistic about the reduction and cessation of new infections and deaths.
As it is now, the virus has spread to many countries already. China has shown support and still carrying out those supports to every country around the world. I see that the same approach that helped Liberia in eradicating Ebola in pursuing the fight against Coronavirus in China. If Liberia can succeed, I see no reason for China to fail. I believe strongly in the leaders, strong men and women of the health sectors, and law-abiding citizens of China. This fight against the virus is global, and I urged my fellow foreign nationals to uphold the spirit of unity and encouragement in these defining moments. I understand that this is a difficult time to be away from home, not to mention the pressure from families to return home. We stand in awe that “this too shall pass,” and our beautiful city of Beijing and other Provinces in China will regain its warmest beauty and strength. Heartfelt appreciation to our outstanding international school staff of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for working tirelessly, ensuring the safety of us all.
This article originally appeared on the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ International Students Department account.