From Wikipedia, in 2018 an estimated 2,004,400 travelers flew into and out of Wuhan-Tianhe International Airport every month, according to statistics provided by the airport. That’s a little more than an average of 68,000 per day who typically came and went from what became, on January 21, 2020, the epicenter of our current global pandemic.
On January 31, when the U.S. begin restricting flights from China, we can know that, based on its own data, over a million travelers flew in out and out of Wuhan.
What remains to be known is if the government of China was aware of the fact that hundreds of thousands of travelers, possibly more than a million people, were unwittingly helping to spread a known contagion to other parts of the world.
As early as January 20, according to the Washington Times, screening stations (somewhat ineffective, since no tests were conducted or even available) had already been set up in airports in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, JFK in New Jersey, and in Atlanta, a time when 566 flights a day were coming from China – and were subsequently cancelled when China finally admitted there was a coronavirus.
By January 24 there were already 457 cases confirmed in Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization, which indicates thousands may have had already been infected, remembering that for three weeks China had denied there even was a virus, allowing it to spread in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
if 1.4 million people were leaving China in those first three weeks in January from Wuhan, it is easy to understand why places like Italy, Iran and South Korea were hard hit, as these three places (as well as much of the Middle East and Europe) allow for the free flow of Chinese citizens, and for that matter, provides a favorite vacation spot for people from these countries.
For six weeks infected people from Wuhan were getting on airplanes planes and taking the virus to all corners of the globe.
There is no way of knowing just how many infected carriers left Wuhan during those crucial three weeks when the virus was in incubation, or even during the weeks to follow, but as we saw in South Korea with one woman who infected a thousand fellow church members, essentially causing the epidemic to spread very quickly in Seoul, it doesn’t take but a few key-placed “super-spreaders” to cause havoc, which is why there is an explosion currently happening in Europe – but not the U.S.
In the words of Jordan Peterson, who speaks of how little we understand our own personal impact in the world, “you will meet a thousand people in your lifetime, and each one of those people will meet a thousand people, which puts you and I one person away from affecting a million people in our lifetime.”
Do not underestimate the power of each individual.
Self Isolate and keep your damn hands clean. Millions of people are depending on you.