Recently, the coronavirus epidemic has made various headlines in different countries around the world. Within China, coronavirus has been responsible for over a thousand cases and over a hundred deaths.
In addition, the first death outside China has also been recently reported. Governments from around the world are now increasingly concerned about imposing preventive measures in order to stop the virus from spreading.
As a result, many airports in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rest of the Western countries as well as most of the Asian countries have started screening passengers, specifically those who have recently traveled to China.
The majority of the airlines have also delayed flights to any region in China until further notice along with stating that ensuring safety for their passengers is their priority.
On the other hand, some of the countries have taken drastic measures to reduce the probability of the virus spreading to their territory. For instance, Papa New Guinea has announced that it would not be taking any flights from any Asian countries at all.
The government of Mongolia has recently announced that it will be closing the Mongolia-Chinese border crossing until the risk of the coronavirus epidemic goes down. Following other neighboring countries of China, it has also announced public holidays in both offices and educational institutes alongside a ban on public events till spring.
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Health experts at the World Health Organization and Chinese government officials are increasingly putting in efforts to stop the further spread of the coronavirus infection.
Secondly, the World Health Organization has also suggested people take preventive measures themselves as it is also equally significant in cutting down the risk of the infection.
For example, people are suggested to wash their hands frequently, delay travel plans especially if they are near any severely impacted areas, and maintain distance from an infected person.
However, such guidelines are hard to follow, especially in the United States. Experts have suggested that the pressure to work or ‘workplace culture’ in the country makes it extremely difficult to follow the mandatory suggestion of avoiding outdoor timing.
While the Family and Medical Leave Act allow employees to take leaves due to health conditions, it can only help people with specific jobs. In addition, the act does not take health issues such as flu into consideration.
Consequently, people are more likely to defy any guidelines due to being worried about their job including the people who have been infected and display early symptoms. This can further spread any illness and make an epidemic worse.
This has also happened during the H1N1 swine flu epidemic in the year 2009. A survey conducted during the swine flu epidemic showed that around three in ten people went to work regardless of showing symptoms of having swine flu infection.
Hence, the swine flu epidemic was extended and the virus impacted around seven million more people. Around 12,469 people lost their lives during this time period.
Experts on the topic suggest that two factors are responsible for this situation – lack of paid leaves in many of the jobs as well as the US’s obsession with working. Another survey from the year 2018 showed that many employees did not take any paid sick days despite having the option.
The encouragement of such behaviors does not only adversely affect one worker’s health but also compromises others around him/her and may contribute to a public health crisis.