According to this Travel Advice Update by the UK Consular services in China, on 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. As of 5 January 2020, a total of 59 cases had been reported.
Immediately following news of the outbreak, Public Health England offered advice to British travellers emphasising that those travelling to Wuhan should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) echoed these cautionaries when they offered further advice this time against all but essential travel to Wuhan city, Hubei Province, and stated we should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.
They then provided an amendment in which they advised against ALL travel to Hubei Province, and that if you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so.
Other British media and reports such as the Guardian have observed and documented the events as they have unfolded, at times offering opinions and advice on what we should know.(1)
The BBC in particular – like many others – have noted how Chinese president Xi Jinping has warned that the spread of the coronavirus is accelerating as cases have started to be reported in other countries.(2)
And many countries have prepared thermal cameras at airports and other precautions against the spread of the new flu-like coronavirus.
Meanwhile, we’re still hearing these ridiculous line-butting stories which most would have the common sense not to reciprocate, such as when the Chinese embassy in Paris was reported to have forcefully tracked down a Chinese woman who bragged about taking tablets to lower her fever and pass through airport security.
The Turkish Consulate in Shanghai advised that hospital/clinic lists for the new coronavirus “2019-nCoV” in Wuhan, China, and cities in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces had been obtained by them from the relevant Chinese authorities, and that Yiwu Municipality Foreigners Office (24-hour telephone number: 0579-85214963) has made an announcement in several languages for foreigners living and working in Yiwu, where it reported that people who show symptoms of disease can call the phone number “0579-85258166” of the Yiwu Municipal Center of Disease Control, which is available 24 hours a day.
Meanwhile, CNN reports from Beijing observe that the death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus in China continues rising as authorities and health care workers struggle to contain the outbreak, further warning that the World Health Organization should sound the alarm and declare a worldwide state of emergency.
Many other media and reports play into the whole “end of the world” rhetoric and write panic and fear spurning prophecies about mankind’s demise at the hands of a Chinese virus, as if a virus could have a nationality/ethnicity.
Dr Eric Feigl-Ding said the new coronavirus is of “thermonuclear pandemic level bad”, adding that he’s “never seen an actual vitality coefficient…” in his entire career, adding that he’s “not exaggerating”, as if he even needed to reiterate the seriousness of such findings if they were indeed true.
He explained how it was previously estimated that only 5.1% of infections in Wuhan were identified, and that by 21 January a total of 9,217-14,245 people had been infected by the start of the year, and that if it continued unabated the epidemic in Wuhan alone would rise to 132,751-273,649, the infection would already be well established in other Chinese cities, and importations to other countries would be more frequent.
He also highlighted that this was estimated based on the timing and reporting of cases, and a research model that – though there is considerable uncertainty associated with the outbreak at this early stage – travel restrictions to and from Wuhan were unlikely to be effective in halting transmission in China, with a 99% reduction in travel only reducing the size of the epidemic by 24.9% at best by 4 February.
Like a Bat Outta Hell – calculation by computer model suggests virus passed from bats to snakes then humans
There are also speculations that the new coronavirus strain came from bat soup, after photos posted online of Wuhan locals eating the local delicacy prompted further analysis by Chinese scientists, who used a computer model which suggested the virus passed from bats to and intermediary – perhaps snakes – then humans.
Gao Fu, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the new virus is almost 70% similar to the SARS virus, which originated from bats, and scientists released a statement to the South China Morning Post that said: “The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans, there may be an unknown intermediate.”
A new study published in the China Science Bulletin claimed that the new coronavirus shared a strain of virus found in bats, where the previous deadly outbreaks of SARS and Ebola were also believed to have originated.
Research carried out jointly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai revealed that the virus has a “strong binding affinity” to a human protein called ACE2, which has a high resemblance to that of SARS, which killed almost 800 and infected 8,000 people worldwide in 2002-2003, and belongs to the same family of strains as Betacoronavirus, where the two share roughly 70-80% of genes.
Chinese Nurse’s Emotional Plea For Help Sparks Mass Charity Campaign
Early on during the outbreak, when speculation of a new mystery epidemic first began spreading in China and rumours were becoming rife, Chinese social media sites were swamped by a viral video revealing an urgent message from a Wuhan nurse, who claimed more than 90,000 people in China had been infected with the fast-spreading coronavirus.
“I am Jin Wei. I am currently inside the Wuhan outbreak region, Han Hou area. I would like to describe the condition inside the Hubei province, as well as the outbreak situation in the entire China. Currently, there are already 90,000 cases of pneumonia contraction…”
The nurse went on to say that medical supplies from bio suits, medical masks, goggles, and gloves “are in great shortages”, to which the public responded with a mass social media campaign, making activists out of most Chinese netizens who scurried to purchase supplies such as masks, gloves, goggles and other medical equipment to send to the city, province and their hospitals in support.
According to China Daily, a novel coronavirus vaccine is currently being developed, and during high-level talks between scientists and top Communist Party of China officials, the government agreed to adopt a host of measures to cope with the epidemic, including delaying and reducing conferences and major events, extending the Spring Festival holiday, supporting work online to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, coordinating resources nationwide, and prioritizing efforts to support the province and its capital with medical workers and resources such as protection suits and surgical masks.
According to the National Health Commission of China, a total of 4,515 confirmed cases were reported as of Monday 27 January 2020. 106 people have died and 60 patients have recovered.
(1) What is the coronavirus and how worried should we be? The Guardian. 25 January 2020. https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/25/what-is-the-coronavirus-wuhan-china-virus-symptoms; Chinese city plans to build coronavirus hospital in days. The Guardian. 24 January 2020. https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/24/chinese-city-wuhan-plans-to-build-coronavirus-hospital-in-six-days; Fourteen people in UK tested for coronavirus. The Guardian. 23 January 2020. https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/23/increased-likelihood-coronavirus-uk-health-secretary-matt-hancock; Coronavirus timeline: from Wuhan to Washington state. The Guardian. 23 January 2020. https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/23/coronavirus-timeline-from-wuhan-to-washington-state
(2) China coronavirus spread is accelerating, Xi Jinping warns. BBC. 24 January 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-china-51249208; Coronavirus Spurs China to Suspend Tours Abroad and Xi to Warn of a ‘Grave Situation’. The New York Times. 25 January 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/world/asia/china-coronavirus.amp.html; China’s Xi warns of grave situation as coronavirus death toll continues to rise. CNN. 26 January 2020. https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-hnk-intl-01-26-20/index.html; Xi Jinping warned of the ‘grave situation’ created by the ‘accelerating’ spread of coronavirus. Business Insider. https://amp.businessinsider.com/xi-jinping-warned-that-china-spread-of-coronavirus-is-accelerating-2020-1; Coronavirus: China president warns spread of disease ‘accelerating’, as Canada confirms first case. Independent. 26 January 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/coronavirus-news-china-new-year-latest-wuhan-symptoms-virus-uk-france-australia-jinping-a9302011.html?amp