Archive for January 23rd, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wuhan “in a State of War”, but without Health Protection Upgrades, says virologist

Main Link: “More than ten times as many infections than during SARS”

Yi Guan, or Guan Yi (管軼), a Chinese virologist who is credited with a crucial role in keeping SARS under control in 2004, is critical of Wuhan’s performance in combating the current coronavirus, according to Radio Taiwan International (RTI), quoting from an interview the professor gave Caixin online. For one, he doubts the efficiency of the restrictions on travels from Wuhan, as many people had already returned home to celebrate the new lunar year. Guan believes that by now, the infection rate is at least ten times as high as SARS was.

香港大學新發傳染性疾病國家重點實驗室主任管軼今天(23日)表示,武漢交通封城實際效果存疑,因為不少人已經回家過年。他又表示,武漢肺炎疫情已經無法控制,保守估計感染規模是嚴重急性呼吸道症候群(SARS)的10倍以上。

Guan also called the city’s less spectacular preventive measures into question. While staying in Wuhan on January 21 and 22, he had been to a vegetable market where sanitary conditions had been poor and where only one person in ten had been wearing a face mask. He also found disinfection at Wuhan airport was unsatisfactory, with only sporadic use of chemicals in the waiting lounges. Guan had also been told by a security officer that superiors, worried about the airport’s image, didn’t allow him to wear a face mask, and that all employees who did had brought their own ones, rather than getting them from their employer.

管軼接受中國大陸「財新網」訪問時說,21日曾到武漢考察兩天,發現一個菜市場衛生狀況惡劣,但只有不到一成人戴口罩,22日機場竟然還有旅行團出遊,機場地面沒有消毒,候機大廳只有零星地方放置消毒液。1名安檢人員對他表示,上級擔心影響形象不准戴口罩,口罩都是自備。管軼形容,武漢已經進入「戰爭狀態」,但衛生防護根本沒有升級。

While Wuhan had now entered “a state of war” (戰爭狀態), even basic health protection measures had not been upgraded.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Coronavirus: Excitement without Borders

If you follow the news – even in Europe -, the coronavirus infections that reportedly started in Wuhan features prominently.

This can hardly be explained with the dangers it may pose to individuals, at least for now. Then why the excitement, while climate change (probably) continues and poses a much greater threat?

What becomes news depends on what people can relate to. When a royal couple decides to move to Canada (but not quite, only a bit), it’s news, because it suggests that there must be a VIP family conflict.

When murder occurs in a place where overseas tourists go, media are more likely to report the case than if the same thing happens in Gaborone, or in a tranquil Swiss village off the beaten track.

And when shit happens in China, it becomes an online game: because new statistics and measures are announced every hour, the news seems to suggest that the situation becomes ever more grim.

Besides, because the Chinese authorities earned themselves a bad record  during the SARS epidemic early this century, there are suspicions that the worst news may still be covered up.

And as Wuhan closes down public transport (including trains and flights), this comes across as truly dramatic, particularly in countries where such actions, in modern times, are unheard of.

But then, draconic measures are nothing unusual in China (as many victims of arbitrary police and other state organs can tell, if they dare). And besides, if you live in Wuhan and own a car, you can go wherever you like. I haven’t heard of Wuhan citizens being refused a flight once they have reached, say, Nanjing International Airport.

Life goes on: the South Korean government, only on Monday, published plans for individual travels from South to North, and one of the options includes traveling through China (“or other countries”). Yes, you may still plant an apple tree.

When Wuhan adopts measures the way it does now, there are always two ways of interpreting them: one may think that if things are that bad, they are probably even worse.  But then, maybe the authorities simply want to be efficient this time. It depends on how you look at it.

Time for me to hit the road. And I’m sure that I’m much more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, than by a virus from Wuhan.

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