In China health officials have announced they expect to see the COVID-19 (previously known as 2019 nCoV or corona virus) outbreak intensify. The virus has already appeared in all but one of China’s provinces and in at least 11 other countries. China has said it will boost efforts to contain the virus. That means even more transport and travel bans canceling major public events and shutting tourist attractions as well as widespread health screening.
Meanwhile the death toll is rising. At least 56 people in China have died and more than 2,000 more have been infected. A whole city in quarantine. A public health announcement is broadcast to a near-empty street in Wuhan but the medical centers are overflowing.
And even if residents feel well they could still be a carrier of the new coronavirus. China’s health minister told reporters that the virus’ ability to spread is getting stronger.
“Our knowledge of the new coronavirus is limited. The origin hasn’t been found. From our observation the disease can be spread during the incubation period. The period lasts for 10 days. The shortest is one day.Tthe longest is 14 days. This is very different from SARS.”
And that means a seemingly healthy person carrying the virus can infect other people before symptoms appear. There’s no vaccine or a drug to prevent the virus but medical researchers say first tests on a possible vaccine could start in three months time.
In Wuhan, China all access to pharmacies, hotels or any other public spaces comes after a temperature check. Many residents are taking these new restrictions in stride. “I’m not worried, it’s not bad because the Wuhan city government has treated us very humanely. That is to say all aspects of the defense measures have been very satisfactory. I think know what Home Instead doors and just you know wait for it to pass.”
But the doctors and daily contact with sick patients can’t wait for it to pass. Dressing for battle against the virus the city says there’s a shortage of masks and protective goggles and blue hand. And Chinese state TV shows medical supplies and army medics arriving in the city from other regions to help the stretched health services there. It’s the middle of the festival of the new year. a celebration that has been drastically scaled back this year.
And let’s get the latest now from our correspondent in Beijing, Fabian Kretchmer who’s been following this.
Fabian about measures taken by Chinese authorities:
“They basically reminded the press how severe the threat is and there have been a lot of steps have been taken. One is by the province of the Guangdong that’s in South China. And they introduced a new regulation that requires every citizen to wear a face mask. If you don’t wear a face mask in public you’re not allowed to enter any kind of facilities including restaurants.
Also China banned its trade with wild animals. We know that in Wuhan the the virus was supposedly originating from a market where also exotic animals were sold, such as snakes and also crocodiles and bats. So that’s also a big step and maybe the most intense steps were taken in Wuhan. Starting from today every kind of traffic individual car traffic is also banned.”
Fabian about lock downs and foreigners getting stuck in Wuhan:
“I think they get preferential treatment, for example the French authorities and also the Russian authorities they are negotiating and the evacuation of they are citizens. And also the US consulate of Wuhan they already announced that they will evacuate their staff on Tuesday (Jan 27). For the Chinese of course it’s more severe because they cannot leave the city as it’s sealed off. And you can see that people are stopped piling on food. They’re also stockpiling on medical supplies.
And for more on this Christian Linnemeier a spokesperson at the World Health Organization China’s Health Ministry says:
“It’s a novel coronavirus which means it’s a new virus where we don’t have any treatment measures yet other than the clinical treatments of you know fighting the fever or the cloth. We don’t obviously have any vaccine because it’s a new virus.
So it’s something which we knew would at some stage happen in the world but it’s definitely something which is spreading and will get worse before it gets better. We’ve seen travelers leaving China and coming to other countries around the world quite a lot by now and taking this virus with them.
What we haven’t seen and that is very good news that in those countries we haven’t seen any further transmission and that’s a sign to look out for the who is expected to announce whether this new corona virus will be designated what it calls a public health emergency of international concern what its current status is definitely an emergency.
In China there’s no doubt about that there’s no other official status. This description of a public health emergency of an international concern has certain criteria and they’re quite technical criteria. It is not linked to the amount of cases and that’s very important so we’re not looking at cases or deaths it’s linked to the fact that it’s a new virus. It’s linked to the fact that it’s internationally spreading and it’s linked to the fact that it’s human to human transmission.
It is ongoing in other countries that’s why the fact that this hasn’t been spreading yet further in other countries is a very signal in fact. In China as far as we know all cases have yet been linked to Wuhan directly and all human-to-human transmission have been within closed families or enclosed circumstances, so that’s what we know right now but we’re constantly monitoring.
The experts of the Emergency Committee also constantly being up to date on what’s going on. They will reconvene shortly that is something we can safely assume and our country’s doing everything they can and should do to stop the spread of the virus.
This is now certainly a test for international health systems of all countries around the globe. It’s very good so far that we have been seeing travelers coming home and we see a virus detected to us that means what it means that it has been detected as silly as this may sound and that is definitely good news. And these people have been either put in isolation, they have been immediately put under treatment their family members friends the contacts have been reached out to and checked medically and monitored.
So these are all very good news and that’s exactly what people can do. They can do exit tests our entry tests from flights coming from various areas. People themselves should look out for symptoms of cough or fever of sneeze. Now this is of course a very tricky scenario because it’s a flu-like virus. And we have winter season still in Europe so that means everybody can develop a sneeze or cough or cold so that’s something which can be confused.
And again it’s important to know the most the farthest way you can go for your own protection. It’s the same way you would protect yourself against the common flu or the common cold or the flu that means don’t sneeze into the open, don’t cough into the open sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue and discard the tissue afterwards.
And if you get infected or if you touch with somebody, then wipe your hands afterwards sanitize. And maybe don’t get too close to somebody as you wouldn’t if that person is infected with anything else.
Source: DW News Channel on Youtube