China’s recent deadly coronavirus outbreak, commencing in Wuhan in early December 2019 and rapidly spreading throughout the country and world, demonstrates that dictatorship can  exacerbate a disaster, whether it is naturally occurring or manmade, such as the Soviet Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak in 1979.

The pandemic is China’s Chernobyl. While the Chinese authorities initially reported about 800 cases and 25 deaths, that death toll in China has risen to 80 and the number of confirmed cases is growing by the thousands. Videos, texts and other information sent out from the epicenter through various outlets indicate the number of people exposed to the virus may be as high as 100,000. Videos show Wuhan hospitals packed with patients, people collapsing on the streets, and medical staff breaking down.

Chinese authorities have shut down Wuhan and 15 surrounding cities in the province, affecting some 41 million residents — but is this unusual action too drastic, and were the attempts to curb the virus imposed too late?

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