From Wuhan with Love
Covid-19. Ilana Mercer discerns some chinks in our armour
When in doubt as to just how remiss your government was, see what Israel has done to protect its nationals from the coronavirus pandemic. Taking its cues from the American Left, the Israeli left is all for national and individual self-immolation. But nobody who matters in that country has been listening to the Left babble on about “racism” and “Sinophobia.”
China is Israel’s second-largest trading partner. But against the advice of its liberal think tanks—and to protect its nationals from the Wuhan virus pandemic—the Jewish State had, early on, closed its doors to “more and more of eastern Asia, starting with China, continuing to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Thailand, South Korea and Japan.”
To follow were tough travel restrictions and a quarantine regimen on territories in Europe, in line with unfolding coronavirus contingencies. Israel has since extended the quarantine to all arrivals. Everyone who comes to Israel from abroad is sequestered for 14 days. Although the number of cases in the country is rising rapidly, there have been no deaths to date. What is proving more difficult for the Jewish State is adding “New York and the states of Washington and California to its restricted list.” Israeli public health officials recommend it, but Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is being muscled by Vice President Mike Pence to keep his country open to those COVID-19 hot zones.
Following transmission of the coronavirus from Wuhan to Washington State, I wondered, in a mild tweet, posted with links to the Israeli policy, why Americans didn’t deserve this kind of diligence from their government. Came the strident reply, also on Twitter: “Because, unlike Israel, the U.S. is not a postage-stamp-sized garrison state. The U.S. needs to tailor its response to the disease to its role as global economic power.”
Stalin apologist Walter Duranty summed up this Jacobin perspective perfectly. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” Breaking a few old eggs, in an old-age home, in King County, Washington State, is what it apparently takes to make that great global omelet.
To the extent that it safeguards the well-being of its own people, the defensive measures taken by Israel comport with the role of government. “Whether they are armed with bombs or bacteria, stopping weaponized individuals from harming others—intentionally or unintentionally—falls perfectly within the purview of the night-watchman state of classical-liberal theory.”
Look to other nationalistic countries for the connection between borders closed and the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported by CNBC, Russia had sealed its borders with China as hermetically as possible, late in January. Matters are fluid, but at this writing, one source says Russia has only 147 cases of coronavirus and no deaths. Another, WorldMeters.info, pegs the number of Russia’s coronavirus cases at 111, with no deaths as yet. The infected were said to be Russians returning from Italy.
Likewise, Mongolia closed its borders with China in late January. Only six cases have been reported there. Nobody has died. Singapore has reacted patriotically with all its scientific and cerebral might to what was termed there the “Wuhan flu.” It is now over the worst. The great Lee Kuan Yew would be proud. “The response in the U.S. has essentially been the opposite,” laments an envious geneticist writing in the Technology Review.
To talk-up open borders during a killer pandemic is scandalous—as scandalous as it would have been for Harvey Weinstein to be talking-up rough sex during his sentencing for sexual assault. The open-border fetish is turning into a symbol of death, not freedom. For the correlation between borderless countries and infection rates seems unmistakable—certainly when one looks at Italy and the EU nexus of nuts to which it belongs. For Brussels, the undisturbed free flow of people across European borders is sacrosanct.
The first U.S. “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry, as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants, of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus” was signed into law on Jan. 30. It went into effect only on February 2. Reports from our nation’s airports, however, told of chaotic attempts to reroute passengers to 11 designated U.S. airports, for the purpose of screening that was as “enhanced” as temperature checks and a reliance on the “honest” say-so of the arrivals.
At the time, no restrictions had been placed by the United States on arrivals from other COVID-19 hot zones. Passenger screening from source countries like Italy was slack, to put it mildly. The government’s March 13 travel ban on Europe was welcome. Via the National Pulse: “[S]ubject to conditions on the ground … travel from Europe to the United States will be suspended for 30 days.” While restrictions initially exempted the United Kingdom, these were belatedly implemented.
The omission was no small one since, while it is true that the UK “is not part of the EU’s open-borders zone,” it has however—and as reports on terra firma suggest—been allowing any and all to enter from Europe practically unchecked. Editorial note; according to the Sunday Times, March 22nd, “Thousands of passengers from Coronavirus hotspots such as Iran, Italy and even China are flying into Britain…”
Put it this way: An officer “briefly pointing a thermometer gun at your forehead or watching as you go by for signs of a cough or difficulty breathing” does little to stop the virus from spreading. In fact, as a correspondent for Science magazine avers, “It’s exceedingly rare for screeners to detect infected passengers.”
U.S. travel restrictions came too late for the poor residents of the Life Care home in King County, Washington State.Patient Zero, who very likely infected Washington State and beyond, arrived in my state, from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 15. Thanks to the patient’s own diligence, he was tested on Jan. 20 and diagnosed with COVID-19. However, CDC contact tracing fell woefully short. As is done in South Korea and Israel, the man’s whereabouts—not his identity—ought to have been made public. In this way, anyone who had come in contact with the Man from Wuhan could have been quarantined and taken the necessary precautions to prevent further transmission.
Genetic sequencing of virus extracted from infected patients allows scientists to pinpoint the virus’ origins and the timing of the “seeding event.” That the virus that continues to kill elderly people in homes for the aged and the infirm, in King County, came from Wuhan is indisputable. Writes Trevor Bedford, a sequencing scientist at the Fred Hutch Research Center: “The first case in the USA was … from a traveler directly returning from Wuhan to Snohomish County on Jan. 15.” But there was another traveler whose virus was related to that of Patient Zero, and who had,
“exposed someone else to the virus in the period between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19, before they were isolated. If this second case was mild or asymptomatic, contact tracing efforts by public health would have had difficulty detecting it. After this point, community spread occurred and was undetected due to the CDC’s narrow case definition that required direct travel to China or direct contact with a known case to even be considered for testing. This lack of testing was a critical error and allowed an outbreak in Snohomish County and the surroundings to grow to a sizable problem before it was even detected.” [Emphasis added.]
Colleagues confirm that the “genetic diversity of the Washington State outbreak … suggests a scenario in which an individual infected [from] Washington State travelled to California, and, in particular, to the Grand Princess cruiser, instigating a chain of transmission there. The viral strain from a patient infected on the cruise ship off the coast of California is similar to the cluster circulating in Washington state.”
If only travel from China had been stopped earlier, the poor old people from the Life Care home might be alive, and the coronavirus would not be multiplying exponentially among us. As for the country’s professional racism spotters, they wish only to uncouple coronavirus from Wuhan, a city in the Hubei Province of China, where it originated.
Naturally, the ossified CDC has been scathing about the intellectually nimble sleuth work done by scientists not its own, in the course of the viral RNA sequencing mentioned. But epidemiology obligates this creaky bureaucracy to trace the origins of the virus.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as … with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).
The SARS-CoV-2 virus [has its] origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States.”
In other words, coronavirus jumped first from animal to person and thereafter from person-to-person. The deadly disease originated in one of China’s disease-breeding, barbaric “wet markets,” as they are called. These “wet markets” are hell on earth for wild animals, which are tied up, stacked in cages and slaughtered on the spot, because the fiendish customers demand “freshness.”
As the Associated Press reports, “You’ve got live animals, so there’s feces everywhere. There’s blood because of people chopping them up, … The messy mix raises the … odds that a new virus will jump to people handling the animals and start to spread.” To its report, the AP has appended an image of a “wet market,” adjacent to an up-market Chinese mall. Suffer the innocent, helpless critters. Suffer the old and the infirm. God help us all.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook& Gab. Latest on YouTube