The streets of bustling metropolitan cities are barren. Death rates are escalating. Health care systems are being pushed beyond their limitations. Scientists are racing against the clock to formulate an effective vaccine while researchers are desperate to find out how we got here in the first place. Amidst this new apocalyptic reality, ABC News' Four Corners documentary series attempts to unravel the intricacies of the COVID-19 crisis.
The bulk of the film is centered in Wuhan, China, a megacity which housed the first reported cases of a mysterious new infectious disease in early December 2019. Early evidence suggests the virus originated from handling contaminated pangolin or bat meat somewhere among the city's many outdoor seafood and wildlife markets.
According to the interview subjects featured in the film, an internal silencing campaign began as the government attempted to squelch public knowledge of the danger. Crucial data was suppressed. This restricted flow of information led to deadly delays in research and testing efforts, and further endangered a vulnerable population. Unable to deny the inevitable any longer, Wuhan went into lockdown near the end of January 2020.
By then, the virus had already made its presence known around the world.
In addition to solidly produced investigative reporting, the film features insights from residents in both China and Australia. They speak to their daily reality as they endure long periods of isolation, uncertainty and fear. In the center of the hot zones, we're shown surveillance and amateur footage capturing the desperation of medical professionals who are understaffed, underequipped and completely overwhelmed by the number of cases they're tasked to treat. We also catch glimpses of authorities who are forcibly dragging infected persons out of their homes. In addition, the film examines what this catastrophe might mean for the future of President Xi Jinping.
The story of the virus - and its spread to even the most remote regions across the globe - is constantly evolving and expanding. Coronavirus: A Global Emergency provides an important foundation of knowledge about the outbreak, and outlines some of the most consequential mistakes that have been committed since its initial emergence.