The novel coronavirus strain SARS-CoV-2 has never been seen in humans before, fuelling bizarre conspiracies of religious prophecy.
Some believe the coronavirus was foretold by the French mystic Nostradamus.
Others have said the pandemic was predicted in a 1981 novel by Dean Koontz.
But Christian evangelists are now saying the coronavirus is one of many plagues predicted to hit before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
According to Joel Helliker, a senior editor of the Christian publication The Trumpet, the New Testament warned of disease pandemics “in the end time”.
He cited Matthew 24 from the New Testament, in which Jesus said: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in places. All these are the beginnings of sorrows.”
Mr Helliker said: “Perhaps the most vivid forecast on this point is in Revelation, the Bible’s most detailed book of end-time prophecy.
“Here is where you find the imagery of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”
Hardline Christians who follow literal interpretations of the Bible believe the Book of Revelation describes how the world will end.
Perhaps the most vivid forecast on this point is in Revelation
Joel Helliker, The Trumpet
The Book of Revelation was penned by John the Apostle and is a collection of his visions about end times.
Mr Helliker said: “Coronavirus is definitely a problem – but compared to the scale of the pestilence that is coming, it is barely significant.
“God prophecies of tens of millions of people killed by pestilences.
“But do not lose sight of the reason. God is not destroying indiscriminately: He is punishing the world in love and in measure – to help mankind ultimately turn from the paths of destruction towards the way of truth and peace.”
Despite the bizarre claims, there is no evidence to suggest the coronavirus is biblical or supernatural in any way.
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a family of pathogens that have been responsible for past epidemics.
Between 2002 and 2003, some 8,000 people were infected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
A new strain of coronavirus emerged again in 2012, infecting hundreds of people with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The viruses all attack the respiratory system with flu-like symptoms and pneumonia.
In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus attacks most people with mild systems.
But vulnerable patients in elderly age groups or people with underlying health problems are at risk of developing critical symptoms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
Main image copyright: Getty Images
Written by: SEBASTIAN KETTLEY
First published 25.03.20: https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1260220/Coronavirus-Bible-disease-pandemic-COVID19-end-of-the-world