EU health ministers met in Brussels on 11 February 2020 for an emergency meeting on the coronavirus. There have been a handful of isolated coronavirus cases in EU countries, but the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control currently considers the probability of a coronavirus outbreak in the EU to be “very low”. Nevertheless, public interest and concern over the virus is extremely high.

What is the coronavirus? A new respiratory disease was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. In just a few months, the number of people infected by the coronavirus has increased rapidly to over 60,000. The Chinese authorities have taken drastic measures in response: since January, the inhabitants of several cities (with populations of millions) have been quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading further.

How dangerous is the virus? The fatality rate of the disease is reportedly around 2% (though some believe the actual fatality rate is higher). Regardless, almost all of the fatalities so far have been among elderly people with pre-existing conditions. Children and young people seem more resistant to the virus, and the majority of people infected are over 40 (the average age of patients being 55 according to one study). So far, 82% of cases have been mild, with symptoms requiring no medical intervention.

That’s not to say the coronavirus is not a threat. However, some analysts believe “fantasies about the coronavirus”, including racist stereotyping of Asians, are more contagious than the disease itself. Developed countries with well-funded and well-equipped healthcare systems are much better-placed to respond to epidemics than developing countries, as the Ebola outbreak in the DRC sadly demonstrated. This is not to minimise the challenge of the coronavirus (being seen to hide things or downplay the impact of the virus could end up eroding public trust in the media), but rather to argue the facts as they stand don’t justify a full-blown panic.

Are we overreacting to the coronavirus? Is Europe prepared for the virus? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Bigstock (c) Supawat B.

27 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    One overreacts to the virus, until gets it ;)

    • avatar
      Geogre ydav

      damn right

    • avatar

      I’m much more concerned about world reaction to this virus than the virus itself. Somethings off.

  2. avatar

    Ofc not better safe than sorry. Those rascists are though.

  3. avatar

    Yes we do thanks to media that are terrifying the public for few more ” likes ” ..
    Much more people are going to die from common flu than the Corona virus.. not to mention that SARS was far more deadly

  4. avatar

    Yes, Who or what is behind such news.?

  5. avatar

    OMS is overreacting, I think

  6. avatar

    As if we do have any information at all
    Just let’s remember it’s spread from China, the most dictatorship country on this planet right after north Korea
    Let’s not forget the death of the first doctor who spread the news of the threat two weeks before government of China be generous enough and do their job,
    Let’s remember the last journalist was really reporting from the main source city was hailed in jail nothing but because he did his job
    I believe the whole world are paying the price letting such government free of punishment, i hope by the end of this we learn the lesson, that dictatorship is a curse not for their people alone but for the entire universe
    History is not Promising though

  7. avatar

    Well, maybe not. One thing is sure: the medias are feeding us with catastrophic news every minute and this isn’t necessary.

  8. avatar

    I think we’re overacting. There’s a lot of media coverage (maybe also because China is an important country in the supply chain of most bigger companies) but the media is just writing in this attention-seeking way what they need to survive.
    If we think about it, the stats are clear:
    Coronavirus deads: 1770 and the numbers are decreasing at the moment
    flu deads: 400.000 in Germany

    I think the right way now is to be alarmed but not panicky

  9. avatar

    No…I think everyone should self isolate for at least 6 months, just to be sure….stay away from any form of social media…..

  10. avatar

    Coronavirus appears to be very contagious, but not too dangerous, killing mostly immunodeficient, sick or elderly people. Yet, in highly infectious environments doctors died (as in China) – so it should not be taken light heartedly.
    Figures to date suggest it kills 2% of infected humans which is 10 times more deadly than the flu (which kills 0.2% of infected people). But the flu, @Philipp, kills at most a few thousands people per year in Germany.
    The coronavirus epidemic spread is very similar to a 2011 movie, thus mimicking a perfect scenario for media, which thrive on it: coming from a distant and secret country, some retention of information, heroes dies trying to warn or cure the disease, epidemic affects Westerners on secluded cruise ships… Wait for the call against foreigners and infectors, popular during plagues.
    More and timely info at

  11. avatar

    The experience from China suggests only one thing: censorhip kills.

  12. avatar

    No, I don’t think we are overreacting at all. it is just that we don’t want that virus to be a norm like flu that attacks in winter and retreats in summer. while it is unlikely to get flu during summer, I think coronavirus can live in summer season/ hot environments because there are coronavirus cases in tropical areas like South East Asia. I hope I’m wrong.

  13. avatar

    I do not think people are overreacting with coronavirus. It’s better to be safe than sorry. These days China has trouble with production and trade descriptions, which affect world supply disruption. So many people in the world have difficulty accessing supplies. For example, Coca-cola is also having delays in the production and export of sweeteners used in Diet Coke, which is sourced from China. So Coca-cola is having trouble producing Diet Coke. For these reasons, it is better to be prepared.
    Moreover, the fatality rate of coronavirus is low, but high for elderly people with pre-existing conditions. However, most people know a loved one who is elderly. It is better to be cautious to help loved ones’ getaway from viruses.

  14. avatar

    I believe that we are underestimating the coronavirus rather then over reacting toward it. Even with all the new statistics of those who have died due to the coronavirus, people are still not taking action and protecting themselves. People are not taking proper measures until they are highly infected with the virus, and once they do finally decide to take action to protect themselves and over react, the coronavirus has already widely spread within the country creating a scare towards all the citizens. People outside who are not infected with the coronavirus see the way people are reacting and thinking that they are over reacting since they do not know what it is like to live in a country with a virus with no known cure.

  15. avatar

    I do not think that individuals are overreacting to the coronavirus. I believe this is the case because this virus is spreading at such a rapid pace that we are unable to keep up with the number of people affected. Since this virus can be spread easily and very dangerously, people need to take the proper precautions to keep one another safe from contracting the virus. Since there is just about 100,000 cases of the corona virus it is evident that this is a clear epidemic and that us individuals need to do what ever it takes to secure our safety and well being. The coronavirus is spreading into different continents and branching out into different countries. For example it has reached Germany, United States, Canada, Italy, France and many other countries. Since this disease spreads so rapidly I believe that we are taking proper action to combat this deadly disease. It is better to be safe and kill it while it is still manageable than to be sorry when it kills a large portion of the population.

  16. avatar

    I believe that we are not overreacting to the coronavirus because it has been quickly spreading all across the world affecting many people. This virus has a low death rate at about 2% which usually affects the elderly or people with previous conditions. It’s better to be safe than sorry though because you never know what can happen. Since the media makes it sound like a really big deal people are going out of their way to purchase as many goods from stores so that if it were to spread into their community they are prepared for it. The reason it killed a lot of people in China is that they have to many people infected and not enough doctors who can help them which causes people to do die from the virus. Also, the virus can survive in any region which is another concern because it can thrive in any climate such as hot or cold.

  17. avatar

    I believe the world is acting in several ways depending on different factors. Some regions are treating the issue based on the history of spreading worldwide epidemics. For instance, SARS killed three times less than COVID-19 is doing in 8 weeks than SARS did in 8 months. Similarly, based on its genetic makeup, COVID-19 has proteins that are 70-99% identical to the SARS virus. The rate COVID-19 spreading has already infected more than 581 people with approximately a quarter of those becoming seriously ill. Since there is limited information about the different proteins that make up this virus; an important issue some scientists are currently facing is COVID-19’s genetics appearing visible under a microscope. In several countries, they are testing for diagnosing COVID-19 infections using molecular tests. As the virus is spreading, other than comparing its statistics and molecular shape; environmental settings can factor an individual’s perspective on the outbreak. Someone’s perspective on COVID-19 can change depending on social factors and how the government is containing the situation; such as quarantining groups of people or areas of the world. My opinion on this matter is the EU should take precautions because currently in Italy there are approximately two thousand cases with the death toll rising gradually. The symptoms from those diagnosed in the first week have gotten more severe than those who are currently being diagnosed. Thus, COVID-19 can spread rapidly as it already has in the EU, so I do not think people are overreacting to COVID-19 because it should be taken seriously.

  18. avatar

    I do not think society as a whole is overreacting with the precautions taken against the Corona Virus because of how heavily the government enforces precautions through media, news and, advertisements. On every media station and government advertisement, people are intensely reminded of the growing danger the Corona Virus poses and are encouraged to buy masks, sanitizers and other personal care items. The reason I believe that the government is making us so paranoid about this virus is because of the massive markup they are able to provide on these items which has made companies around the world large amounts of profits. Though I don’t believe the level of severity is as high as the government is making people think, I do understand the strong response from society to avoid the spread and contraction of the virus, especially through the purchase of personal health items.

  19. avatar

    I don’t believe that we are overreacting because of what the virus can become without the proper awareness. Even though right now the deaths have only been older people or people with health complications doesn’t mean that it could possibly mutate. We need to be aware of how this illness could affect everyone’s day to day lives if it gets out of control.

  20. avatar

    Outbreak Of The Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus is currently the talk of many conversations and a very serious concern around the world. Similarly to the epidemic and tragedy caused by the Sars Virus, the coronavirus has spread rapidly and it has been found in 60 different countries around the world. This number accounts for 31 percent of the total countries on the planet. There have already been 3,125 known deaths worldwide, with 90,925 cases of people infected, and the spreading of this fatal disease is not showing any pace of slowing down.I believe that part of the problem in battling this disease is that there is not full disclosure and cooperation among nations and governments. Different countries are reacting differently based on the numbers of casualties and their own interests. This is a very scary and irresponsible approach to a dangerous disease which can affect and paralyze many economies. I believe one way this situation can be better controlled is if countries and governments cooperate by sharing information and resources. This disease can be easily transmitted from one person to another by simply being in the same room sharing the same space. In my opinion we are not overreacting and in fact aren’t reacting fast enough, otherwise we should have isolated this disease in Wuhan, China, preventing it from spreading globally. Not only is the Coronavirus a health issue but it also serves a massive economic threat to countries that have obtained it, as it will have a devastating effect on their travel and tourism industries, sports events, import and exporting of goods, transportation services, and many other business relying on China’s cheap labor market.

  21. avatar
    A cosgrove

    Complete over reaction. We’re causing a major ressesion and the media are to blame. How many die of flu and in road accidents yet the media never reports the 500000 people who die every year from flu. The millions who die of starvation or lack of clean water. Wake up world think about the depression your causing

  22. avatar
    JC Davidson

    In my county in Texas, lots of people have “died.” We live in a small county, and yet, they don’t publish names..hmmm.. The local news says “oh is for privacy issues” but other fatality news do publish names…isn’t that “weird”? I’m also not saying this virus doesn’t exist, I’m just saying that we are over-reacting to it.

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