The Lunar New Year is an important festival in the Chinese culture, however, it hasn't been too exciting this year. The latter can be tied to a new strain of coronavirus, which has infected 1,300 people in China and led to the death of at least 41. Coronavirus has also spread to over 10 countries including France, Australia, and the U.S.
Chinese New Year Celebration Gets Plagued by Coronavirus
The last week in the month of January and early February, is a time the Chinese celebrate the arrival of a new year. It's a public holiday where businesses and schools close to mark the festive period. But in 2020, the event has been riled with saddening news due to the wild-spread of coronavirus in the country. Reportedly, 1,300 cases were discovered in China, and among these, at least 41 people have been confirmed dead.
Coronavirus is a new virus that leads to severe acute respiratory infection. Its symptoms include fever and dry cough, which aggravates to shortness of breath. Reportedly, a greater percentage of those who were killed by the virus are the elderly, "some of whom have pre-existing conditions". And at the moment, there is no "specific" cure or vaccine for the infection.
Coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, a city in China, and so far, it has spread to other regions in the East Asian country. Residents are seen plying the streets with masks to reduce the risks of being infected. Hospitals, on the other hand, are flooded with patients who have been infected by the virus. Pharmacies are also running out of supplies.
Chinese Government's Effort to Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus
In a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Chinese government has placed travel restrictions on several cities and closed tourist sites in the country. Public transports including buses have been stopped from driving around the central districts of Wuhan. Train stations have been shut down and planes cancelled. By Sunday, private cars will be prevented from plying the streets and this could affect 56 million people in several cities.
Asides restricting people's movement, the government is currently building an emergency hospital to support 1,300 new patients. And it estimates that the building will be completed in half a month. Plans have also been made to build another hospital with 1,000-bed capacity, just to support the growing number of patients. Also, occupants of vehicles have their temperature checked to ensure that they have not been infected.
Coronavirus Spreads to France, Australia, and the U.S.
Further reports reveal that China is not the only country infected with the coronavirus. France, for instance, has three reported cases, and one of such is of a 48-year-old man who recently travelled to Wuhan, before returning to France. Australia has also reported four cases. In the UK, efforts are being made to trace around 2,000 Chinese locales believed to have travelled from Wuhan to the European country recently.
Neighbouring Asian countries including Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Nepal have also reported cases of coronavirus. Also, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed two cases in the US. The first of a man in his 30s, and the second of a woman in her 60s.
Health Organizations' Comments About Coronavirus
Despite the alarming rate at which coronavirus is spreading, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet classified the infection as an "international emergency". According to WHO, it is still too early to declare the virus a public health emergency of international concern. The latter has been tied to the low number of reported cases in other countries.
What's more, Stella Kyriakides, the European Health Commissioner called a meeting of European Union state health representatives. In a tweet on January 25, 2020, the Commissioner said:
"I am in close contact with the Member States, @WHO& @ECDC_EU #ECDC is in the process of updating its risk assessment. This morning I discussed the situation with Ministers @agnesbuzyn & Milan Kujundžić @EU2020HR. We stand ready to act & step up our response if needed. #coronavirus."
Social Media Reveals Infection May be Worse
A look at social media, on the other hand, shows that the infection may be more serious than the government or media is letting on. A Redditor, for instance, claimed that the virus has a 66% mortality rate.
A video on Twitter, which claims to be from medical staff in Wuhan reveals a high number of deaths. And saddening, the healthy, infected, and corpses are occupying the same space.
Per the tweet:
"There are more than 100,000 infected. The government provides no medical supplies... People are dying right in front of our eyes...Don't EVER trust the government. We are on our own."
The Use of Gas Masks to Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus
Residents in China are currently using gas masks to reduce the spread of coronavirus since it is an air-borne disease. According to Dr David Carrington, of St George's, University of London, the use of these masks can reduce the risk for a person to contract the virus if splashed by a cough or sneeze. Also, the use of gas masks prevents hand-to-mouth transmissions given that a study has shown that people touch their faces about 23 times per hour.