The eyes of darkness

The eyes of darkness Like a raven-black, man-killing zombie, the terrible virus which emerged from Wuhan this past Christmas has marched out of China’s borders to infect more than 65,000 people around the world and kill 1,523 innocent souls as of Feb. 14.

So many dead bodies so suddenly. Where could they all be buried? Who would be there to attend the funerals? What dark eyes will be left to cry the farewell tears?

A wise local dentist told me recently that from outer space, the grey, gauzy, gossamer smoke over the city of Wuhan looks like a delicate, translucent burial shroud for the 1,500 cremated victims of the coronavirus.

Once upon a time in a similar era of terror, a mysterious virus arose out of a rural Kansas breeding pit filled with pigs, humans, and migratory birds to stomp its way with World War I soldiers across the planet.

In 1918, the Spanish flu or influenza virus killed 50 million people around the world including 638 people here on Guam. As a helpless island watched, 70 percent of the people who died on Guam that year were killed by the influenza virus.

The Spanish flu killed its victims with terrifying velocity. In the America of President Woodrow Wilson and a young Babe Ruth, people would wake up in the morning sick with a cough and fall cold dead by the time they got to work. Victims would be feverish, weak, and short of breath. Their faces would turn blue from the lack of oxygen. Their noses would bleed and their lungs would fill up with blood. Death would come painfully with patients drowning in their own vomit and blood.

The most obvious difference between novel coronavirus and influenza is that coronavirus is considerably more deadly. The case fatality rates for most flu strains tend to be in the region of 10 or 20 deaths for every 100,000 infections. Coronavirus appears to be several orders of magnitude more dangerous, with the equivalent of 2,359 deaths per 100,000 confirmed cases so far. Just in case you were wondering, that would equate to about 3,000 dead on Guam if it were to infect everybody this year.

While anxious nations across the world this week mobilize military assets to combat an emerging global pandemic, Chinese military forces in Wuhan have been conspicuously out of sight and their unquestioned leader Xi Jinping has been strangely invisible behind his powder blue surgical face mask.

Just last month before an applauding crowd of sycophants in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, President Xi celebrated the Lunar New Year of the Rat by proclaiming, “Every single Chinese person, every member of the Chinese nation, should feel proud to live in this great era… Our progress will not be halted by any storms and tempests.” If any nation had the right to be confident about its pandemic preparedness, the China of Xi Jinping did.