What History Has Taught Us About Dealing With A Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is not the first one that the world has faced. The bubonic plague, cholera outbreak, influenza pandemic, and even HIV peak in 2005 to 2012 has affected many populations across the globe, causing morbidity to those infected.

And these pandemics have taught us a lot of how we could have prevented and better faced the coronavirus outbreak today.

Here are lessons from the history of pandemics that could help us better face the world’s coronavirus outbreak.

Quarantine Is Prevention, Not Cure

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Quarantine is from the Italian word “quaranta,” which means 40 and has first taken place in 1377 in Croatia. Since then, it has long been the method to prevent the spread of deadly outbreaks of different illnesses. It has been proven useful in dealing with the recent SARS outbreak in 2003, contributing to the relatively lower morbidity.

History has taught us that quarantine and isolation can significantly help in preventing the spread of diseases. Yet, some countries have not immediately put up quarantine measures due to a lack of initiative from their governments. These countries have now been leading in the number of infected and death tolls around the world. 

Wearing Masks Is A Must

Another important lesson from history is that wearing a mask is a must. The SARS outbreak of 2003 has shown that wearing protective gear, like masks for the public, has helped prevent the spread of that airborne disease.

Unfortunately, recent news has reported that most people from across the world have taken this lightly, complaining that it is irritating to wear them.

However, some countries have taken the threat of coronavirus lightly, owing to their lack of initiatives to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for their healthcare workers.

And the history of SARS tells us that lack of protective gear has contributed to the morbidity of front liners. And in the past, this accounted for half of the total death population in Canada.

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Healthcare Workers Are Essential And Must Receive Proper Care

Whenever any pandemic happens, healthcare providers become our front liners. They are responsible for the health of the infected, and even other medical problems of the general public.

History has taught us that they play a vital role in the survival of humans. They should receive the care that is beyond words of affirmation and sympathy.

Shaili Jain, M.D., notes, “Doctors, nurses, first responders, hospital staff, and essential workers all over the world represent the frontline in the global war on COVID-19.”

She adds “Their stories tell not only of their extreme exposure to the pandemic, in the course of their professional duties but of a painful struggle to reconcile their need to take care of their sick patients with fears for their own health, the health of their colleagues and loved ones.”

To help them better take care of us, we must give them the proper support and care that they need.

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Preparation Beats Prevention

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an outbreak becomes a pandemic if it involves a global spread of a new disease. And any new disease starts in a particular place, which in the case of the coronavirus pandemic, is Wuhan, China.

History has shown us that preparation measures are needed to better equip ourselves in facing any pandemic.

Some of the preparations include:

  • Setting up temporary hospitals that are not in medical buildings to house the infected
  • Better information dissemination for the public to prevent them from panicking or hoarding essentials and prejudicing against other races
  • Earlier quarantine measures and closing of borders
  • Strengthening public cooperation by offering financial and food assistance to the displaced workers
  • Securing essential supplies for the medical frontliners, like PPE and masks

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Slow Down

One of the effects of the measures against the coronavirus pandemic is the economic setback. The past has informed us that every outbreak has a second wave that could be deadlier than the first.

Currently, there are already talks in different countries in lowering the strict quarantine measures to allow workers to go back to work. And that is entirely against what history has taught us about dealing with pandemics. 

Prematurely loosening quarantine measures to allow people to work puts them at risk for what’s coming next. Therefore, leaders must caution as to when to call out a victory in dealing with the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has been continuously affecting a lot of people around the world. Vaccines are still in development, and as to when they can be ready for human use, it is yet unknown. So while we are waiting for a cure, let us heed the history lessons in dealing with a pandemic.

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