Returning from the Chinese New Year celebration has been as difficult as anyone can remember as the lunar year ends, and citizens get back to work in the year of the rat.

The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first.

The world is on high alert as the coronavirus claims more victims, and international travel in and out of Hong Kong falls to full safety concern as human to human contact spreads the virus and calls every citizen to attention as the coronavirus surpasses SARS. According to the Daily Mail, “ The coronavirus causing a deadly outbreak in China has been named COVID-19, the World Health Organization has announced. Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the global body, announced the new name at a conference in Geneva this afternoon. It comes almost six weeks after the virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then it has infected more than 43,000 people and killed 1,018 “. 

Stock markets are affected and global trade slows from Starbucks to Southwest.  The word pandemic begins in a small province in China and spreads to equity and currency markets as transportation slows and governments try and control any pandemic fear, the worst-case scenario is full-on panic. But as we pass into pandemic stage, they rename the virus to be specific to its origin.  They will now call the virus Covid-19 according to the World Health Organization, and it is an officially frightening reality to anyone who travels or traffics in populated areas.

The year of the rat is starting off in a deadly way, and we can only hope modern medicine and the cooperation of government and its people will prevent the type of pandemic that killed 25% of the population during the Black Death plague era during the 1300s.  This is a pivotal year for mankind as we try and manage a smaller world.

Many media outlets report that Coronavirus could kill 45 million people and infect more than 60 percent of the global population if containment methods fail, a top Hong Kong medical official has warned.

Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine in the city, also said that even if the death rate reaches just one percent, the potential spread means it could still kill thousands of people. 

With the global population currently at more than 7 billion (7,577,130,400), that means that more than 4 billion (4,546,278,240) could be infected if Professor Leung is correct. 

And if one percent of those people die, that means there will be more than 45 million deaths.  Welcome back to work, in the deadly year of the rat.