Monday, 24 February 2020

From Chernobyl to the Coronavirus: The price of denial and lies


From Chernobyl to the Coronavirus: The Importance of Transparency and Good Governance

Coronavirus has been fueled by the initial denial and lies of Chinese officials and the situation invoke a metaphor - Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Soviet Union.  These terrible incidents of Chernobyl and coronavirus do have similarities. These two situations are worsened by corruption, mismanagement and lack of transparency at the highest levels of the state.

In 1986, the nuclear explosion occurred in northern Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union but the communist government tried to hide information about the gravity of the disaster. The 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl exposed the failings of the Soviet system, which first attempted to suppress the incident’s real impact. The Chernobyl disaster accelerated Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and is considered as a beginning to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The winter of 2020 was the starting point for an outbreak of a new disease known as Covid-19 and the virus has rapidly spread across China and abroad, killing people mostly old and children.

Li Wenliang, a whistleblower Chinese doctor in Wuhan shared the rise of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness on the famous messaging app ‘WeChat’. But he was silenced by the local authorities (police) for spreading rumours online after the post went viral. The hero doctor also died of COVID-19 later which prompted outrage in the country. At the time of treating patients in Wuhan, Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist contracted the virus.

Wuhan city mayor admitted later that the information on the virus wasn’t disclosed timely because he required authorization to reveal information in the time of an outbreak.

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