10 Hungry Ghost Festival Taboos to Avoid

With the arrival of September, it is now the Chinese ghost month. The month that our parents explicitly warned us about and have various pre-cautions for.

Canopies will be erected, and triangular flags will be propped up on every signpost and lamppost along roads. The smell of incense will fill up the night sky which may trigger the jeepers creepers in you, making the hair behind your neck stand up uncomfortably.

Noise from late night performances will also ring out throughout the night and your elders, especially your elders warning you of certain taboos to avoid this time of the month.

Here are 10 thing to not do during the month of the hungry ghost:

1) Leave your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice

Our parents hate it, our friends hate it, chopstick etiquettes dictate when whenever we pause or stop eating. Leaving your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl is massively frown upon in the Chinese culture as it’s similar to seeing a pair of joss stick at an altar, it is also believed that passing spirits will mistake your rice bowl as a sacrifice and will possess the diner to devour it.

2) Do not take photographs at night

Macro view of a street in Tokyo at night time, street photography

It is believed that taking photographs of places, especially in dark areas are more likely to result in an earie sight in photobombing phantoms showing up on screen.

3) Avoid late nights out

It’s not a good month to stay out too late as night go-ers are more likely to follow a victim home or worst, possess them.

4) Refrain from sitting in the front row of live shows

Have you ever noticed that at live stage performances, the front row is always left unoccupied throughout the night? The shows are actually meant for wandering spirits and the front row seats are reserved for said spirits; sitting in their seats is believed to bring bad luck or serious ailments.

5) Stay away from swimming activites

According to traditional belief, spirits of those who died by drowning will lurk beneath the waters waiting to drown an unsuspecting living being. This apparently supplies them a shot at rebirth as it basically works like as soul for a soul.

6) Never kick food offerings

Sights of food under trees or at pavements would be a norm this month as it’s offered to any wandering spirit. Stay clear of it in your path as kicking them away may result in an angry spirit that will personally find you punished for your ignorance.

7) Never step on dead people money

Having your foot anywhere near sensitive things such as “hell money” is extremely frown upon, especially by the entities that are set to “receive” them. 

8) Don’t hang out clothes to dry at night

We get it Malaysia’s weather is unpredictable and hanging your clothes to dry indoors may be one of the way to get it done. However, refrain from doing so this month as something else may find that blouse as good looking as you do. On top of that, clothes resemble a human body and may attract spirits to cling on to them.

9) Never turn your head when your shoulder is tapped, or when your name is being called from behind

According to traditional belief, humans have two protective flames, one on each shoulder and turning your head will result in them being extinguished, hence, making you vulnerable to lingering spirits; to prevent that turn your whole body instead.

10) Don’t whistle or make unnecessary noises at night

Wandering spirits may be attracted to whistling as they would think people are calling out to them. Celebrations at night is also best to be avoided because you may attract an unwanted guest.

6 Ways to Spend Merdeka Day during a Pandemic

It’s here! Our nations 63rd Independence Day. We’ve come a long way since 1957 as a nation and as individuals ourselves, especially during this restricted movement control order (RMCO) period where we’ve had to disciplined ourselves to carry out daily tasks while maintaining standard operating procedures.

While the pandemic is still ongoing, there is still much to go on as celebrations strictly with standard operating procedures are still going on to celebrate what makes Malaysia, Malaysia.

On this festive day, there is no short of fun and celebrations going on as we’ve been doing this for the past 63 years. Although strict guidelines everywhere, KL has once again open it’s doors, barely, to welcome the festivity and life back into the heart of the country.

While we’re at it, here’s six things to do on this festive day while practising social distancing.

1) Catch a show at KLPAC 

Ever since returning into the spotlight post-MCO, KLPAC has brought life back to Sentul Park again with various performances and live shows. To aid in reviving the local perfoming arts centre, the community choir group, The young KL Group will be performing a series of cabaret shows from the 27th of August onwards with familiar tunes from Western blockbusters and nostalgic Disney films in the plans. Do visit their website for any more upcoming shows!

2) Ultron X JomRun Merdeka Virtual Marathon

We Malaysians love our morning and evening runs. One may not think of joining a marathon during this period as it doesn’t really help the case with social distancing, that isn’t the case here, as a virtual marathon is all one needs especially during these times. Ulton X JomRun Medeka Virtual Marathon allows you to rack up the metres and steps all in the safety of your own home away from the crowds. All you have to do is to register by 4th September, choose to cover 5KM, 10KM, 21KM or 41KM, get a pedometer app or device such as a smartwatch or FitBit, and then run! It’s that simple!

3) Visit a Drive-In Cinema 

Drive-in cinemas are something we Malaysians don’t often get a chance of experiencing. Earlier this year, M-Junction, the providers of experiences such as Dinner In The Sky Malaysia, released the news of the first ever drive through cinema opening right here in the heart of the nation. Still an on-going event, why not spend the night at the comfort of your own vehicle while enjoying a movie. To learn more, here’s 6 tips for an ideal drive-in cinema experience.

4) Experience Exquisite Japanese dining at Nobu Kuala Lumpur

Food, us Malaysian love our food; and unsurprisingly, we love food from other cultures as well! World-renowned Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Nobu is celebrating the National Day with an eight-course menu titled 14 Flavours Omakase. Simultaneously a visual and culinary delight, the set meal incorporates Malaysia’s wide array of local delicacies and flavours. Happening until the 31st of August tickle your tastebuds at dishes such as unagi chimake wrapped in bamboo leaves, chilli crab gracefully coated with a tangy or a spicy and sour egg sauce. 

5) Watch the parades from the comfort of your own home

Although we aren’t able to attend any parades this year as there aren’t any, they are still being broadcasted live on RTM. RTM channel is televising the procession and live performances from the venue of the country’s 63rd Anniversary which takes place at Dataran Pahlawan, Putrajaya. Malaysians are invited to tune in at home and watch the programmes safely with their family. There will be other various programmes in line to celebrate Merdeka today.

6) Appreciate the cuisines close to home

What better way to celebrate Merdeka than to celebrate it with the best that Malaysia has to offer, its food. From kuih-muih, nasi lemak, char keuy teow and more that could help bring the spirit of celebration alive, indulge in the best Malaysian cuisines in your Merdeka day outfits while watching the various tv programmes lined up!

10 Little Known Facts About Malaysia That Might Surprise You

A country that is split by an ocean but still offers an experience unlike any other. Malaysia offers sunshine, seashores, food and everything a traveler would look for; on top of that, it is known for its history and pride that has shaped the Malaysia we know and love today.

Formed in 1957, 63 years have seen a multitude of changes to what a small country was as we’ve experienced the growth first hand. There are still much to learn about this growing country as it is always advancing and we might find it hard to keep up with all that is happening these days.

In conjunction with Merdeka day, here are 10 little known facts about Malaysia, that might surprise you.

1) Ringgit means “jagged”

The national currency “Ringgit means ‘jagged’ in the Malay language in reference to the serrated edges of the Spanish silver dollars that were used in the 16th and 17th centuries.

2) Peninsula of Gold

One of the old names of Malaysia is Aurea Chersonesus, which means ‘peninsula of gold’. The name was given by Greco-Roman geographer Ptolemy in his book Geographia back in 150 AD.

3) Largest cave chamber in the world 

Large enough to accommodate 40 Boeing 747s, the cave chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park, which is also the largest yet discovered on Earth is twice the size of Britain’s Wembley Stadium and homes thousands of small birds called swiftlets.

4) 65,877 kilometres of highway roads

Yes, you read that right. To put it into perspective, the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 kilometres.

5) Ketchup

It is believed that the English word ketchup is believed to have been sourced from the Hokkien word “ke-tsiap” which refers to a dish of fermented sauce.

6) Sunken treasure

The richest uncovered treasure from a sunken ship lies on the floor in the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia.

7) UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites

Malaysia is home to four UNESCO heritage, including Gunung Mulu National Park, the Kinabalu Park, the significant cities of Melaka and George Town, and the Lenggong Valley

8) Ramadan in Space

Malaysia’s first astronaut, Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, observed the Ramadan in space, becoming the first Muslim ever to achieve the feat.

9) Rafflesia

The flower is the world’s largest flower and thrives abundantly in Sabah. The giant jungle parasite blooms without a leaf, stem or roots.

10) Penang as an international icon

The street food capital of the world attracts not only locals but also visitors from all over the world! Take a stroll through the famous George Town and hundreds of hawker stalls can be seen offering a variety of cuisines found across the country.

6 Reasons to Love Sabah

Situated at the northern part of Borneo, Sabah is nuzzled by the South China Sea on its west, Sulu and Celebes seas on the east, it seems like it is almost unfairly blessed with all that nature has to offer. 

Rainforests sheltering dozens of animals and plants species, caves bearing years of ancient history and beaches calling out to all those in the mainland, Sabah is known as “The Land Below Wind”, because it’s located just south of the typhoon-prone region, making it free from typhoons.

On top of all that, it is also often said that the reason that makes visiting Sabah so special is its 32 different indigenous groups that consist of over 30 ethnic races.

In line with Merdeka month, it is essential that we give credit to the second largest state in Malaysia. So here’s six reasons to why we love Sabah, our land below the wind.

1) Nature

The biggest reason to visit Sabah would definitely be to experience the vast diversity of landscape and environments it has to offer. More than 8,000 species of flowering plants, 600 types of birds and more than 200 different mammals, tourists can experience the ecological wonderland that is Sabah on top of its 400 islands.

2) Ethnic diversity

Sabah is home to over 42 different ethnic groups and over 200 sub-ethnic groups. Each of them have their own unique culture and traditions to what makes Sabah, Sabah.

3) Diving spots

Some of the best scenes in Sabah are not on land but are underwater instead. The small island of Sipadan features the world’s best diving spots as it hosts live coral and an abundance of marine life that doesn’t fail to attract divers from all over the globe.

4) Mount Kinabalu

A world heritage, Mount Kinabalu holds the title of Malaysia’s tallest peak. At 4,095 metres (13,435 feet). A popular reason to visit for climbers, people often climb to the summit that involves an overnight stay; it is also a sacred site in Kadazandusun traditions.

5) Orangutans

Sabah remains as one of the last remaining places to see the critically endangered orangutan. Found only in Borneo and nearby Sumatra, these human-like apes share 97% of the same DNA as us humans. 

6) Seafood

Borneo might be well-known for its rainforests, but the cities along the coasts are spots where seafood lovers can rejoice. The freshest, tastiest, seafood can be found in Sabah as Kota Kinabalu’s night market is a culinary fish heaven for seafood enthusiasts. 

5 Things to Know About Tourette Syndrome

One of the most misunderstood neurological disorders, Tourette Syndrome is a condition that causes people to have “tics” such as involuntary, sudden and repeated twitches, sounds or movements. 

Dr. George Gilles de la Tourette

The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French woman.

Tics can be both simple or complexed. When simple, it can be sudden and brief repetitive movements that trigger a limited number of muscle groups such as eye blinking, facial movements or head and shoulder jerking; when complexed, it can be a combination of the simple tics at the same time. However, there are still much more disabling tics that could result in the person engaging in self-harming actions such as punching one’s self in the face.

A disorder that’s still not widely understood, here’s 5 things to know about people who have Tourette Syndrome.

1) The cause of it is unknown

The exact cause of Tourette Syndrome remains unknown as of this day. A complex disorder by its own, experts can only suggest that it is caused by a combination of inherited (genetic) and environmental factors. It is also said that the chemicals in the brain that transmit nerve impulses, which also includes dopamine and serotonin, might play a role.

2) There is no cure

No cure for Tourette Syndrome has been discovered yet. So, instead of looking for a seemingly unknown solution, therapy options have been developed to reduce tics over time. “For more severe tics, medications are available, but they are not always effective or well tolerated,” said Dr. Shprecher, DO, a movement disorder neurologist with Banner Health in the U.S. “In very severe cases, a neurosurgical procedure called deep brain stimulation can be helpful, but it is still considered experimental.”

3) Having a tic doesn’t mean that you have Tourette

Tics, both vocal or motor, are part of the symptoms of Tourette, but there is more to it than that. A person can have single, temporary ticc that lasts for a few weeks or months to having long lasting complex tics. To have Tourette means to have at least two different motor tics and one vocal tic, all for over a year, multiple times a day for almost everyday.

4) People with Tourette cannot control their tics, even if they want to

Both motor and vocal tics that occur in a person are involuntary and completely out of their control, meaning that they are NOT doing it on purpose. Although still largely unknown to experts and the public, the tics are often compared to a sneeze or having an itch. One may try to stop it but the itch or sneeze will still occur either way. It is also said that holding back a tic may make the condition worse or even cause stress.

5) No they aren’t swearing at you

Vocal tics could result in the uttering of socially inappropriate words or swear words. This is often seen on TV but it is not the reality as most people with Tourette don’t frequently use inappropriate language, just like you and me. Known as Coprolalia, it is a complex tic that is hard to control or supress; it affects roughly 1 in 10 people with Tourette.

Want to learn more about Tourette Syndrome? Visit the Tics and Tourette Syndrome Malaysia Support Group today! The community on Facebook raises awareness and provides help while fostering social acceptance for people with tics or Tourette Syndrome.

The Man Who Refused to Die for 133 Days

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In 1941, the British Navy was struggling. They were desperate for more sailors. But with german u-boats sinking ships left and right, men were hard to come by.

They began an initiative to bring in sailors from China.

Five thousand miles away, Poon Lim had just finished a contract as a cabin boy with a British vessel near China. He’d been treated like dirt and sworn off ever boarding a vessel again. He was preparing to get his engineering degree.

Unfortunately, the Japanese Army was advancing on China, in what would become a notorious reign in blood. China was desperately scraping together forces to counter their attack. Lim’s father read of the British sailor program and begged his son to go. He assured Poon he’d be safer than he would be in China. They were words his father would later regret.

Reluctantly, Poon Lim decided to go. Lim began his tour on the Ben Lomond. It was a huge merchant ship:

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Actual photo of the Ben Lomond. Surce: Pic via uboat.net

It was outside traditional military zones in Europe, doing supply runs from Africa to South America. But the illusion of safety would soon dissipate.

On November 23, 1944, as the vessel trekked across the Atlantic, it lurched to the side as it was rocked by an explosion. A u-boat had opened fire on the ship, despite it being full of non-military personnel.

The huge ship sank in just over two minutes. It tilted sideways, trapping many of the crew inside. Only 10 people made it out of the boat. The ship was underwater by the time Lim escaped. His vest helped get him to the surface.¹

Poon Lim hung onto wreckage as the main ship barreled for the bottom of the sea. He found his way to an eight-by-eight foot wooden plank. He then gathered as many supplies around him as he could.

The other men who escaped were later rescued by passing boats, all of which failed to see Lim on his raft.

He was left stranded in the middle of the Atlantic.

His supplies included:

  • A four-liter jug of water
  • a small box of biscuits
  • A big tarp
  • a small bag of sugar
  • some flares
  • rope
  • two smoke pots
  • And a flashlight

In the coming days, his supplies dwindled. The sun began taking a toll on his body. He built a roof with the plastic tarp. He also used that tarp to funnel water into his jug.

Two weeks later, he was completely out of food and starving. Using the spring from his flashlight, a rope, and a nail from a wooden board, he created a fishing line. He scraped out an existence with the fish he caught. But he still went days without eating.

Complicating matters, Lim didn’t know how to swim. He spent most of his days tied to his raft by one ankle.

During a three day stretch without water, his body began flirting with death. A bird landed on his raft. In supreme desperation, he jumped and snatched it, killing it, and then drank its blood. He continued to do this with a number of birds, getting just enough liquid sustenance.

Unfortunately, the sinking bird scraps drew the attention of sharks, which caused all the fish to stay away from his ship.

With no other options, he was forced to fish out a shark. He pulled up his first small shark. This led to a huge struggle that got him injured. The shark eventually succumbed and he had food, for the moment.

For months, Lim sat in the middle of the ocean, dehydrated, near the brink of starvation, sun poisoning, and drowning. Multiple storms hit his raft, causing him to lose supplies. Frequently, he saw boats pass by in the distance without seeing him. At one point, he saw a german ship go by and intentionally ignore him.

On another occasion, a large recon plane flew over and saw him. It then did another pass and dropped a large red buoy to mark his location for his rescue plane. But, right away, a massive storm came and washed the buoy and Lim far away from each other.

Eventually, he drifted close enough to Brazil and was found by a local fisherman.

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Source: pic via Goodreads

He spent the next two weeks in the hospital recovering.

He still has the world record for the longest time survived while stranded at sea at 133 days.²

He would go on to receive a heroes welcome in Britain, becoming an international sensation. He claimed his upbringing in a poverty-stricken area of south china helped him get through it. Around him, people had grown up just getting by his entire life. He was accustomed to it.

He eventually moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he had four children and lived out a fruitful, content life.

He lived until 1991 which was very good, considering 1943 was very nearly his final year.

By Sean Kernan

Social Distancing at The Kaaba

More than two million Muslims visit the Kaaba annually at Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims around the world.

As many as 300,000 worshippers can fit in the mosque; however, the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed those numbers as just only those within Saudi Arabia are allowed to visit the holy site to perform the annual pilgrimage now.

In a Twitter image by a user @aleeharissi that garnered four thousand retweets and nine thousand likes, pilgrims circled around the Kaaba in small groups of 50. Each of them were wearing a mask and performing the ritual at a safe distance away from each other.

As part of Covid-19 measures, 3,500 workers at the Kaaba have been spread around the Grand Mosque to carry out sanitisation duties.

On top of that, sanitisation is done using 54,000 litres of disinfectant and 1,050 litres of air fresheners. Further, instead of cleaning the floor thrice in a day it is now being cleaned 10 times in a day.

What We Know about Russia’s Covid-19 Vaccine

Image via GettyImages

Early this week, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that the country has approved a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes covid-19. 

According to Putin, the vaccine, received by his own daughter, is safe and effective and that mass vaccinations is planned for October.

Global leaders have since voiced their concerns while some have voiced the approval for it as well. Is the vaccine safe, let alone effective? Immunologists say that there is no certain way to be sure and it seems that Russia is being accused of cutting corners to speed up the processes.

Russia has since offered to help the U.S. with the Covid-19 vaccine, but officials told CNN that the “U.S. is not currently open” to the Russian medical advances.

“There is a general sense of mistrust of Russia on the American side and we believe that technologies — including vaccine, testing and treatments — are not being adopted in US because of that mistrust,” one senior Russian official told CNN.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the Philippines will launch clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as October. 

Duterte has also vowed that he himself would be the first to be injected with it. If successful, the vaccine would be registered for public use by April 2021.

So what do we know?

Sputnik 1

Named after the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, the vaccine is called Sputnik V and is a clear sign that the Russian government will see the vaccine as a matter of national pride. 

Developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, part of Russia’s Ministry of Health, the vaccine was made from a harmless cold virus carrying a coronavirus gene similar to what Johnson & Johnson use in their vaccines. 

Russian researchers have pre-registered phase 1 and phase 2 trials, and according to a website for the vaccine, those trials were completed in early August. No unfavourable effects were recorded and the vaccine produced the appropriate immune response.

Before mass vaccinating, phase 3 has to be carried out.

Phase 3 was planned to be conducted in different countries including India, but officials at the Union Health Ministry in India have reportedly denied Moscow’s claim stating that “no collaboration had been held”.

Kirill Dmitriyev

Volunteers were able to register for phase 3 trials on Tuesday onwards, and the studies will also be conducted in foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines, according to Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) head Kirill Dmitriyev.

Why is it being questioned?

According to The Moscow Times, the first phase involved 38 civilians and 38 military volunteers; the second phases included about 100 people, but no results regarding both phases have been published in scientific literature.

On top of that, candidates are yet to go through the final stage of tests which needs large numbers of volunteers to assess the vaccine’s safety and efficiency. With no proof from large scale clinical trials, experts are worried. 

What could go wrong?

“I think it’s really scary. It’s really risky,” said Daniel Salmon, the director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University.

By jumping ahead for the phase 3 trials, Russia is not able to determine if the vaccine works better than a placebo and doesn’t cause harm to people who get it. Vaccines are intended to be given to a mass amount of people around the world, they must in fact, clear a high number of standards, especially if hundreds of millions of people are getting it.

Even after clearing the standards and being licensed, it still has to be kept an eye on to make sure it is safe. Rare side effects may emerge over time especially those that weren’t immediately clear from the phase 3 trials. It can then be regulated and be made safer.

We are still trying to understand how the virus evades the immune system and make us sick and we aren’t all sure about what we know or don’t know yet.

Hostile Architecture and Homelessness

Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Back in 2014, Kuala Lumpur joined the many modern cities around the world who had certain anti-home measures set up.

Soup kitchens that provided food to the less fortunate on the streets, were once banned from operating by Former Minister of Federal Territories, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor. Mansor bore the brunt of criticism and online outrage following the announcement, but overturned the ban within months amid public pressure.

Homeless figures in Malaysia are not immediately available but even if they are, they are not all accurate. According to a 2016 study, over 1,500 to 2,000 are believed to be homeless in Malaysia. Today, there are at least 8,000.

When compared with other surrounding countries such as China, the Phillipines or even those further such as the United States, Malaysia seems like a droplet in an ocean as the Philippines is reported to have at last tens of thousands to several million that are homeless.

In the U.S., seventeen out of every 10,000 people experience homelessness and have to resort to makeshift homes and beds under pedestrian bridges, highways or just any “livable” area that provides shelter.

Safe to say, the city of Kuala Lumpur hasn’t since resorted to anti-homeless architecture such as those seen under the bridges of Guangzhou , China and New York City as while many individuals and organizations are in the fight to end homelessness, some are in it to end it too, but to literally end them.

Anti-homeless spikes to prevent lying down, bolts installed on steps to discourage sleeping, benches specifically designed to stop people from sleeping on them. These are just the few of many hostile architectures that is used to prevent homeless people from relying on public space.

Metal bars on public benches may seem aesthetic at first, but giving it thought, it is used to divide the benches to avoid lying down. Bolts on ledges are also put in place to discourage homeless people from sitting on them.

Some say this type of urban design is essential in maintaining order and discourage soliciting behavior, but hostile architecture especially in modern cities has increasingly attract backlash and criticize as targeting a certain vulnerable demographic – homelessness.

They, as a modern city, have forced those who have nowhere to go to have actually nowhere else to go. At times when the world looks to modern cities for homelessness solutions, the method that is hostile architecture has since been passed on one by one.

When walking along the streets of Jalan Tun Perak at certain times of the day or night, one can’t help but to notice the amount of homeless people seeking shelter outside restaurants or shop lots. 

Due to the movement control order (MCO), many of the homeless were left out on the street. On top of not having sanitary products at their disposal, a deadly pandemic was in the happenings. Luckily, homeless people were gathered and provided shelter by the government and responsible authorities. 

According to Berita Harian, part of the 800 homeless people are scheduled to go through job interviews for manufacturing factory operators or DBKL general workers whereas if successfully hired, will be paid between RM1,200 to RM1,400 

The homeless will also be placed in two boarding houses provided by DBKL or their future employer while waiting for their first day of work to start.

A lot goes into stopping homelessness; and it’s good to mention that, at least, measures are being set up here locally to help the homeless and not stop them such as those seen in the horrid sight that is hostile architecture.

How The U.S. Topped 5 million COVID-19 Cases

While the world continues its fight against containing the coronavirus, the U.S. who still leads in the infected numbers, has recently reach 5 million confirmed cases. A rather grim milestone is also reached as it also logged a whopping 1 million infections in a mere two weeks, according to John Hopkins University.

California and Florida reported more than 500,000 cases so far and Texas is closely approaching that number as well. U.S. officials fear the virus may be widely circulating in parts of the Midwest now.

“Every country has suffered. We, the United States, has suffered … as much or worse than anyone,” Fauci said during an interview with CNN and the Harvard School of Public Health.

“I mean when you look at the number of infections and the number of deaths, it really is quite concerning,” he said.

So how did it get to this? A virus smaller than a piece of dust mite, has humbled and shaken up all 34 states in the U.S. to its knees. 

Up to 30 CDC staffers were removed in China prior to the pandemic

  • The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency in China 
  • Most reductions were made at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and happened over the past two years, according to public CDC documents viewed by Reuters.
  • Staff members could’ve warned about the spreading of coronavirus but were just not there to do so

Warnings fell on wrong ears

  • American intelligence warned about the threats in January, but Donald Trump has since been dismissing experts and evidence
  • Repeated statements about how the virus would “go away” and the American people have nothing to worry about as the numbers would go down; on top of that, Trump had a habit of disregarding intelligence briefings.
  • On February 26, Trump asserted that cases were “going to be down to close to zero.” Over the next two months, at least 1 million Americans were infected.

Ineffective travel bans

  • Travel bans create travel. People desperately will sort to use indirect routes through third party countries and make a six hour journey last for more than two days
  • The travel ban from continental Europe essentially created a surge of travellers that packed up America’s airports creating unnecessary delays where social distancing was not possible
  • Special exceptions also allowed in tens of thousands of returnees or entries from mainland China

Tests were also short in supply

  • There weren’t enough tests to be going around and the criteria for getting those tests were extremely rigid
  • At the end of February, tens of thousands have likely been infected but only hundreds had been tested
  • Diagnostic test are easy to make, but the U.S did not manage to create one; and to make things worse, no Plan B was prepared

Neglection of nursing homes

  • The hardest hit buildings were those jammed packed with people and especially without social distancing in practice
  • Nursing homes were ripped off their staff when the Trump administration reduced the influx of immigrants, leaving many nursing homes across the country understaffed
  • Tests and protective equipment were passed towards the state instead of being supplied to nursing homes
  • Nursing homes, now in a bad place, had many existing staff stopped working and faced the issue of many elderlies who were uncared for
  • As of mid-June, they accounted for 40 percent of its coronavirus deaths. More than 50,000 residents and staff have died. At least 250,000 more have been infected

Millions cannot afford health insurance

  • The U.S spends more on healthcare than any other country
  • At least 27 million lack any health insurance, and the figure is set to rise as unemployment numbers rise
  • Patients risk getting high bills from emergency room visits and ventilators that they cannot pay for
  • U.S. hospitals received $9.8 million from a federal bailout but was disappointed with how it was divided
  • There were however, no extra funds for financially distressed hospitals or for those situated in Covid-19 hotspots.

A pandemic can be prevented in two ways. Stop it from ever arising, or stop it from increasing in numbers. 

There are a variety of viruses out there and almost too many animals play as a harbour to them, which makes the first method almost impossible. The infamous “covid courier”, bats alone could be a host to many kinds of coronaviruses, and according to the Atlantic, almost one out of every 20 bats in Chinese caves is infected. 

The U.S. underperformed and one error filed on the other. Still there is hope, as trial and error eventually works.

There are also a few signs that Americans are learning the important lessons as a June survey showed that 60 to 75 percent of Americans were still practicing social distancing. A gap still exists, but it has since narrowed.

This pandemic has been devastating and yet educating. We all carry the responsibility in the fight against it and it’s important that we give thought about what other stakes this pandemic brings and what we can do to address them.