Into Uncharted Territory :: By Edwin Tan

What a difference a week and a half makes!

Dr Tedros A. Ghebreyesus chose not to declare a full-blown global pandemic while electing to prefer the containment option. The World Health Organization chief was talking about a tough approach with this course of action. So far, not much has been seen, except for the ongoing lockdown around the Wuhan epicenter in China, and the same being applied as far as sixteen million Italians from the northern part of their homeland were concerned only just recently. Globally, the situation is not getting better.

Over 80,000 people are affected by the corona virus across China with over 3,000 fatalities. South Korea’s casualty rate is well over 7,000, and Italy has close to 6,000 cases. Not forgetting Iran that has over 6,000, plus many other nations reporting cases in single, double and triple digits.

Getting rid of the problem is definitely a very long way off. Effective containment appears to be the immediate option. Judging by the scale and intensity of the problem, it cannot be a piece of cake.

What primarily hinders the efficacy of a program that brings relief to the masses is the existence of a host of unknowns. This area of question marks is brought on by the novelty of the disease. Time is of the essence quite a while before the picture becomes less nebulous. In the meantime, time-tested methods are resorted to, except that what might have worked during previous outbreaks like SARS could only register modest gains in the current context.

We have witnessed manifold instances of behavior that is far from the norm across the globe. About one per cent of Hong Kongers go about without face masks, even when it is official interference in this area. What about the violent fight over toilet rolls in Australia? Panic-buying of essential items has been widespread across many cities. It can be quite a task predicting the next fad, but the longer this episode drags on, the greater the number of deviations from the usual. Especially so with people of little or no faith who quiver in deep fear. They are apt to rest on a phony sense of security, which means that they are easily hoodwinked by lying wonders! Or for that matter, they could be like sheep to the slaughter in the face of rigid and invasive monitoring regimes under a totalitarian set-up.

Recent satellite shots have revealed the symmetry that typifies idle airports and tourist sites – something not seen in the living memory of many individuals. Countries like South Korea, China and Italy are undoubtedly industrial powerhouses – with the ongoing virus swathes of production facilities at a standstill. Armies of workers are laid off, not excluding those in travel and tourism trades. Aside from inescapable supply-chain disruptions, there is a nastier scenario – burgeoning unemployment, which gets worse as other sections of the wider economy are not spared.

The worrying signs have been evident in the spluttering equity markets despite massive interest-rate cuts by key central banks. Business confidence has plummeted to unwelcome lows, a lot of money has been lost over the last few weeks, and the overall perception is that more financial bloodletting is forthcoming. With an increasing number of businesses folding up, there are definitely wholesale layoffs.

With the exception of an exceptional and dramatic turnaround in the coming weeks, we are not that far from the inevitable. The disease and its far-reaching fallout have caused substantial havoc. If things continue as they are without a blip of significant improvement, desperation in many quarters will set in. A global horror story if the situation worsens! Small wonder why a large portion of the masses are now sporting sleepless nights as they ponder the gloom that is fast developing.

Do not be surprised that, amongst the affected, there are many who call themselves followers of Jesus, but sadly enough, do not believe in the entirety of the Living Word – prophecy included! Desperation makes them easy targets for deception and delusion.

They surely missed the critical message in Revelation 22:7. Paraphrasing this verse, we are assured of the quick coming of our Lord and that we are a blessed bunch when we choose to believe in genuine prophetic material contained in the Living Word. We are definitely not blind when we are capable of comprehending the situation with the help of a prophetic lens that is no lie. We know that our domicile in this fallen planet is ending, and a glorious eternity awaits us. On this note, we can dispel fables and walk steadfastly with confidence in Christ as we rest on the Blessed Hope!


Edwin Tan