Meatloaf may have been ahead of his time. This current pandemic came straight out from the Bat Out of Hell! 

Nobody had batted an eye previously, but everyone knew better now. Restaurants in Manado located in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province have put a stop to selling dishes made out of bats due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We haven’t sold (bat dishes) for a week. We are worried because we’ve learnt that bats are carrying the virus,” Mr Mereyke, who owns a restaurant near Tikala Manado street, said on Feb 4.

The virus originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan last month. Wuhan Institute of Virology found that the new coronavirus is more than 96 per cent genetically identical to a bat virus from the Yunnan province in the south of China, according to results published in the journal Nature on Monday.

Mr Mereyke said bat meat stewed in coconut milk had been one of his best sellers, along with other bat dish variations.

Paniki (bat stew or curry), is well-loved among the Manadonese. “Bat meat indeed tastes delicious. The cooking method and the spices used are no different from other dishes, only we add coconut milk and turmeric to it,” said Mr Helpy Poluakan, a paniki enthusiast.

And here we were thinking that it was only the Chinese people who loved to eat exotic wildlife. The Indonesians do as well, apparently. They don’t really care for animal rights. Indeed, as far as they’re concerned animals only have the right to remain delicious. 

But you have to feel for the Chinese. If at one time, the only sort of influenza associated with the country was kung flu, now the global pandemic that originated out of Wuhan has the world in such a tailspin that countries have begun prosecuting citizens who spread fake news that “could inspire panic.”

Some of the Western media don’t help by dubbing the contagion “the Wuhan flu.” If that’s the criterion, then the 2009 swine flu pandemic should have been called the “American flu” because it was first detected in the United States.

Some Malaysians have pooh-poohed the outbreak pointing out that around 50-odd people die of dengue fever every year while between 5,000-8,000 people die in traffic accidents annually. But the novel coronavirus outbreak has to be taken seriously because of its potential for exponential contagion. 

To put in context, the worst pandemic in world history was the Black Death of the Middle Ages. The bubonic plague outbreak killed an estimated 100 million people worldwide. Meanwhile, the worst influenza pandemic was the Spanish flu of 1819 which killed between 20 and 80 million people. 

The present pandemic has a relatively low mortality rate (2.1%) compared, say, to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (over 40%) of 2003. Even so, if the worse came to the worst and all the planet’s 6 billion people contracted the novel coronavirus influenza, an estimated 126 million people would perish. 

Those make for grim odds. 

The good news is that it is highly unlikely and it’s largely thanks to China. The World Health Association thinks so as well. Earlier in the week, the agency lauded China’s “unprecedented response” to the outbreak adding that the measures the country took were likely to “reverse the tide” fairly quickly. Even better, a British laboratory has announced that it has come up with a potential vaccine against the virus. 

An antidote may be available in 2-3 months. 

That could be worth a shot.