Today 4 April 2020, Saturday - Last updated at ora 20:10
Abonamente

News 23 January 2020, at 07:27

Wuhan’s 11 Million People Face Quarantine as Virus Fears Spread

Marime Font

Trains and flights out of the central Chinese city have been canceled as the toll from a new coronavirus grows.

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the seventh largest in the country with approximately 11 million people, will be under a partial quarantine from 10 a.m. Chinese time Thursday, according to a newly issued government notice. Flights, long-haul buses, and trains from the city, which is a critical transport hub for central China, have been canceled, and residents have been told not to travel without special reason. The coronavirus that emerged in the city has been spreading with frightening speed, with the number of cases shooting up over the weekend and at least 17 people now dead.

The previously unknown virus, first reported on Dec. 31, has global health experts seriously worried. The World Health Organization announced Monday that it was convening an emergency meeting on the virus, which is a coronavirus, a species common in animals that occasionally leaps to humans. In China, past cases of viruses passing from animals to humans have been relatively common thanks to close contact with domestic animals like chickens, as well as the consumption of wild animals such as civet cats, and sometimes because population and resource pressures have pushed people deeper into previously untouched forests and jungles in the south.

The most notable of these in recent years was SARS, a coronavirus first reported in 2003 that eventually killed over 800 people and infected around 8,000; the government was widely blamed for covering up the spread of SARS—short for “severe acute respiratory syndrome”—until Jiang Yanyong, a retired surgeon, raised the alarm (and was briefly imprisoned as a result before eventually being hailed as a hero).

Loading...


Is this a deadly disease? How fast is it spreading?
It’s hard to tell, because the information being released by the Chinese government is questionable. Within China, the virus is confirmed to have reached major metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai, while it’s also traveled as far south as Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong. Outside of China, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea have all recorded cases—all Chinese travelers. While it was initially claimed to be only the result of animal-to-human transmission, doctors have just confirmed human-to-human transmission; 14 health care workers have also been reported as infected.

The virus causes pneumonia, resulting in difficulty breathing. As of Wednesday afternoon EST, the number of reported dead has risen to 17. The majority of victims, though, had only mild symptoms, and some have already been discharged. Many others, however, remain in serious or critical condition.

It’s always an open question how bad a new virus could get. Modern disease control methods have improved dramatically since the 1918-19 influenza outbreak killed more people than World War I—and the global population is healthier and more resistant. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the odds of the virus reaching the country are low. Right now, the main worries are in China itself—especially the government’s handling of the cases.

There are numerous unconfirmed posts and stories online claiming Wuhan hospitals are overflowing with victims or showing staff in full protective gear. Those may just be rumors, but the government numbers are definitely suspicious, especially the sudden jump over the weekend. For days authorities kept the figure of infected people at 41; then, it suddenly jumped up this weekend, eventually reaching 218. As of Wednesday afternoon, the number is now over 500. Foreign doctors estimated last week the number might already be as high as 1,700 cases, using models of other outbreaks. Admitting the existence of more cases seems to have been prompted, in part, by public skepticism that the virus could have reached Thailand and Japan but inside China somehow have been confined to just Wuhan.

What measures are the Chinese authorities taking?
Inside Wuhan itself, even before the quarantine, there have been extensive steps, including door-to-door surveys, the recall of medical staff from holidays, and checks on all forms of transport for people showing symptoms of infection. There have also been public announcements, including a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping and by the trusted epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan. Hong Kong, hard-hit by the SARS virus, has implemented a public health plan; cities in China have been slower to act, though authorities have promised crackdowns on animal markets. Some villages are reportedly banning people who have been working in Wuhan from returning.

But the real challenge comes on Friday, when the Lunar New Year vacation starts.

Wait, what does Lunar New Year have to do with this?
Every winter, China experiences one of the largest mass migrations in the world, known as “spring journeying” (chunyun). (It’s called that because of a confused rebranding of the Lunar New Year as the “spring festival” in 1912.) Hundreds of millions of people head home to see their families, often resulting in an emptying out of major cities as people return to the smaller towns and villages their parents still live in. In theory, this is a 40-day period; in practice it’s largely concentrated into the single week of vacation time most people get—this year that’s from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30.

All those shuffling, coughing bodies packed into trains and airports are a petri dish for disease. So are public gatherings to see fireworks or attend temple fairs. Eating together family-style—picking from shared dishes—is also a big part of the celebrations, and another possible means of transmission. Usually, that just means a bad case of the winter sniffles. This year, it could be much worse—but the upcoming holiday also provided a powerful motivation for officials to underplay the virus.

Why did they downplay the crisis?
One immediate reason is that the Lunar New Year, like holidays everywhere, is a big consumption period that helps local officials keep their GDP numbers up. GDP is one of the chief metrics used for judging an official’s performance, leading to regular statistical distortions—especially in a slowing economy. SARS also initially broke out just before the Lunar New Year, and fears of economic strain were a powerful motivation in keeping it secret—which in turn helped it spread.

Opinions differ sharply on how much the Chinese government has learned from the experience of SARS. Epidemic expert Laurie Garrett argues that the signs are there for the crisis to repeat itself, while other medical specialists say the handling has been a lot better this time around. Right now, the government seems to have an all-hands-on-deck policy, even as Chinese media still downplays the story in favor of propaganda around Xi and New Year’s good wishes. But even if there’s more will to handle the crisis properly at the central level, there are lots of ways the system can still fail.

One principal problem in any disaster scenario, from earthquakes to epidemics, is that the Chinese party-state is incredibly opaque, even to itself. Information within a very competitive and back-stabbing political environment becomes a commodity to be traded, rather than a good to be shared; supposed colleagues regularly conceal their schedules from each other, for instance, while at every level people distort numbers in order to make themselves look better. Juking the stats isn’t unknown in democratic institutions, of course, but with no freedom of the press, and a ground-down civil society, China lacks any institutions other than intraparty ones to keep things honest. Getting over that instinctive paranoia about sharing information is hard and, in particular, holds back effective cooperation between different institutions or levels of government.

There’s also a deeply held belief among officials that the public is a fickle beast and that exposing frightening information will cause panic buying, mob assaults, looting, and the spread of uncontrolled rumors. There’s some truth to this, though it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; because the public knows the government regularly covers things up, they often assume things are worse than they are. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, for instance, people in China rushed to buy salt, which they believed protected them against radioactivity.

But Chinese disaster experts have emphasized the need for better and more-trustworthy information, and state media—before the crackdown on all dissent under Xi—often called for officials to be more honest. In disaster preparation exercises with other countries, however, the Chinese side still emphasizes extremely tight information control from the start. Even now, officials are threatening individuals who post or share information about the virus online. Underpinning this may be a long-standing belief that natural disasters indicate heavenly disfavor with the ruling government.

How is the public taking it?
Initially, there was lots of concern being expressed online, but it didn’t spread to the ground level. That has been changing fast as the government admits more details and news of the virus spreads. Reporters say face masks have become far more commonly worn on public transport, and shops and online stores are already selling out of masks. The quarantine of Wuhan is only spreading further worry. If further travel restrictions are imposed or people voluntarily stay home during the Lunar New Year, the economic consequences have been estimated to be as much as 1 percent of GDP growth. That might well be a price worth paying.

foreignpolicy.com 

 Urmărește știrile Timpul.md pe Telegram
loading...
Loading...
blog comments powered by Disqus

Din aceeaşi secţiune

Cele mai noi ştiri de azi

News 2 April 2020, at: 17:03

 The UK death toll for coronavirus has risen to 2,921 – up by 569 from the day before.

( ) Read all

News 2 April 2020, at: 08:06

 The governor of Connecticut delivered heart-breaking news about the COVID-19 pandemic and said an infant girl here in the state died of coronavirus.

( ) Read all

News 1 April 2020, at: 15:34

Spain has recorded another 864 deaths related to coronavirus, the highest in one day, as the total number of deaths across Europe has gone beyond 30,000. More than 9,000 people have died in Spain, which is second only to Italy in fatalities caused by the virus. Confirmed cases in the country...

( ) Read all

News 1 April 2020, at: 15:32

A 13-year-old boy who tested positive for coronavirus has died, a London hospital trust has said. Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton in south London, died in King's College Hospital early on Monday. He is thought to be the youngest person to have died with the virus in the UK.

( ) Read all

News 31 March 2020, ora: 20:31

The Independent Turkmenistan bans the word ‘coronavirus’ and wearing of masks

Turkmenistan bans the word ‘coronavirus’ and wearing of masks

 Turkmenistan’s government has reportedly banned the word “coronavirus” from being used by local media or health information brochures while denying the disease’s presence in the country.

( ) Read all

News 31 March 2020, at: 07:51

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel tested negative for the coronavirus for the third time, a German government spokesman said in an emailed statement on Monday evening.

( ) Read all

News 27 March 2020, at: 14:29

Media captionIn a video on Twitter, Boris Johnson says he is self-isolating and will continue to work from home. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus.

( ) Read all

News 27 March 2020, at: 14:24

Specialist sniffer dogs are to be tested to see if they can detect coronavirus.

( ) Read all

News 26 March 2020, at: 17:16

London (CNN Business) Dyson has received an order from the UK government for 10,000 ventilators to support efforts by the country's National Health Service to treat coronavirus patients.

( ) Read all

News 26 March 2020, at: 15:07

Romanian writer Paul Goma, known as a leading opponent of the communist regime in the country, passed away in Paris after contracting the Covid-19 infection.

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2020, at: 20:46

India is to impose a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced.

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2020, at: 18:16

An elderly Catholic priest reportedly died from the COVID-19 coronavirus after refusing a ventilator so that a younger patient could use it instead. Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died March 15 at a hospital in Lovere, Italy after declining to use the medical equipment that his parishioners were...

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2020, at: 13:56

The African saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died in Paris after catching coronavirus. Dibango – best known for his 1972 song Soul Makossa – is one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19. The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home...

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2020, at: 13:47

The lockdown in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the global coronavirus outbreak began, will be partially lifted on 8 April, officials say. Travel restrictions in the rest of Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, will be lifted from midnight on Tuesday - for residents who are healthy. A...

( ) Read all

News 23 March 2020, at: 17:19

A prankster is facing up to five years in prison for causing panic on the Moscow underground. That’s the high price he may yet pay for an ill-conceived attempt to turn Chinese coronavirus hysteria into online likes. A young man in a black tracksuit and a face mask was walking along the...

( ) Read all

News 23 March 2020, at: 17:19

A joint petition signed by several NGOs has protested over the government’s poor communications and restricted information about the scale of the coronavirus crisis in Moldova.

( ) Read all

News 23 March 2020, at: 15:37

On 20 March 2020, through a written procedure replacing the 122th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Venice Commission adopted a joint opinion, together with the Council of Europe’s Directorate of Human Rights on draft constitutional amendments...

( ) Read all

News 20 March 2020, at: 09:04

Coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than in any other country, after deaths there rose by 427 in a day. The number of deaths now stands at 3,405, which is more than in China where the virus originated last year. There have been 3,245 reported deaths in China, but there have been...

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2020, at: 19:35

„PANIC ATTACK”: a collection about personality disorders and their integration into society

„PANIC ATTACK”: a collection about personality disorders and their integration into society

“My name is Lilya Moraru. I am 29 years old and I am a fashion designer from Republic of Moldova. „PANIC ATTACK” is the motto of a collection about personality disorders and their integration into society. Of the myriad of mental health problems, panic attacks are the most...

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2020, at: 13:14

The psychology of success and wealth, the power of capitalism.

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2020, at: 08:08

Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters.

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2020, at: 06:52

The number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy has risen by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000 - the biggest increase since the outbreak. There are a total of 35,713 confirmed cases in the country, with more than 4,000 having successfully recovered. Lombardy, the worst-hit region,...

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2020, at: 06:10

  With hundreds of millions of people now isolating themselves around the world, the novel coronavirus pandemic has become a truly global event. And while its geopolitical implications should be considered secondary to matters of health and safety, those implications may, in the long term,...

( ) Read all

News 18 March 2020, at: 17:16

The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) formed a majority in the Parliament of Moldova. It was unexpected, since the two parties were considered antagonists, if not totally, then at least in matters of the country's foreign policy....

( ) Read all

News 18 March 2020, at: 13:59

 Russian pro-Kremlin media have mounted a “significant disinformation campaign” to aggravate the coronavirus pandemic crisis in western countries by destroying confidence in the emergency response, according to an internal EU report. 

( ) Read all

News 18 March 2020, at: 10:51

The Irish prison service gave prisoners antiseptics for hands without alcohol, despite the fact that they are less effective against the coronavirus. And all because of antiseptics containing alcohol, prisoners use to brew “moonshine”, writes with reference to prison service of the...

( ) Read all

News 17 March 2020, at: 08:52

The first human trial of a vaccine to protect against pandemic coronavirus has started in the US. Four patients received the jab at the Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle, Washington, reports the Associated Press news agency. The vaccine cannot cause Covid-19 but contains a...

( ) Read all
Current tier / breakpoint: xs sm md lg xl (= visible only on this breakpoint)

.hidden-xs-down .hidden-sm-down .hidden-md-down .hidden-lg-down

.hidden-xs-up .hidden-sm-up .hidden-md-up .hidden-lg-up .hidden-xl

.hidden-xs (only) .hidden-sm (only) .hidden-md (only) .hidden-lg (only) .hidden-xl (only)