It has been reported that the novel coronavirus that started infecting people in the Chinese city of Wuhan has already killed 26 people. The number shows a drastic increase when compared to a week ago, when 2 deaths had been reported. As the virus continues to spread, Chinese authorities were faced with difficult decisions in order to contain the coronavirus and prevent a likely pandemic like the one seen in 2002-2003 after the criticized mismanagement of the SARS pandemic ended up killing nearly 800 people.
With the threat of this novel coronavirus on the rise and the Chinese New Year holidays set to see millions of tourists from China traveling overseas, the Chinese government has implemented strict measures that seem to echo recommendations from a medieval book on how to handle the Black Plague. Essentially, the city of Wuhan has been quarantined. The Chinese government has decided to suspend flights and public transportation in the city. Therefore, no one leaves and no one gets in.
While some people have voiced concerns about these tactics being unethical, history shows that these kinds of strict measures can be necessary in order to prevent pandemics. Nevertheless, experts have stated that despite these efforts, the disease is likely to spread. One of the reasons being that Wuhan’s lockdown came just a bit too late, as it’s estimated that around 300,000 people left the city on Wednesday, right before the measures took place. As a result, the novel coronavirus that was confirmed to be transmitted between humans, could end up in other cities as well.
Additionally, it’s believed that the current numbers (over 800 cases) are under-reported, and with confirmed cases in several Chinese cities besides Wuhan, the virus could continue to travel in force particularly since masses of tourists tend to leave their homes during the Chinese New Year holidays.
A second case of coronavirus has also been confirmed in Japan. The man had traveled from the city of Wuhan, where he developed a fever on January 14 before returning to Japan on January 19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also met on Wednesday, January 22 to determine whether this novel coronavirus should be declared a global emergency, but ended up stating that he was too early to do so.
As a reminder, the World Health Organization has recommended people, particularly international travelers, to be extra cautious, and to avoid contact with people who seemed to have acute respiratory infections, wash their hands frequently (especially if having been in close proximity with sick people), cook meat thoroughly, and to avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals.
People who have respiratory symptoms should follow cough etiquette, such as using clothing or tissues to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing.