There have now been more than one million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and tens of thousands of deaths.

Many cities and countries across the globe are under lockdown or have implemented strict measures to ensure people stay in their homes. Health officials are encouraging physical distancing from others, as well as frequent handwashing and respiratory hygiene.

The world as humanity knows it has changed, and that’s prompted many to wonder: How did we get here? And is it possible that environmental destruction and climate change have contributed to where we are today?

While experts say it’s too early to tell whether the novel coronavirus could be connected to climate change, many researchers had sounded the alarm for years that some sort of pandemic was coming — largely due to how the world has developed.

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“It’s been well known for the past 30, 40 years…that the greatest threat to humanity from a virology perspective is a pathogenic respiratory RNA virus,” said Marc-André Langlois, the Canadian Research Chair in molecular virology and intrinsic immunity, and a professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa.

“If there’s one virus that will wipe out a large swatch of humanity, it would be this type of virus.”

1:41Coronavirus outbreak: Canada surpasses 11,700 cases, over 290,000 tests completed

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