What is the disease outbreak affecting China right now?

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Published 2020-01-24 11:41

The coronavirus has claimed the life of twenty-six people to date and is seriously starting to worry public health experts all over the world. Indeed, the virus has spread to other countries of Eastern Asia as well as to the USA, Belfast and Scotland. Several Chinese cities are under a transport ban.

All eyes are on Wuhan as this city, found in central China, that has been struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus which started in December is on lockdown. Indeed, no trains or flights are operating to and from Wuhan and residents have been told they could not leave the city.

The disease has, to-date, contaminated 830 people across China- that is to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and to countries in the vicinity such as Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. The necessary precautions have been put in place to prevent the spread beyond these frontiers but it has been very hard to contain the outbreak.

On the 24th of January, things were getting more serious in China to try and contain the outbreak. Indeed, as of now 14 Chinese cities are paralysed as public transport has been suspended. In some cities, public venues have been shut down with the exception of hospitals, supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations.

What is the coronavirus?

The virus that has affected almost 1000 people till date and killed 26 others is similar to the coronavirus which strains cause respiratory diseases like the common flu or in the worst cases pneumonia, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Little information is available, however, on the strain of the virus currently affecting almost 1000 people in China.

The symptoms are similar to a common cold in the beginning- fever, cough- but rapidly evolve to shortness of breath, breathing difficulture, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death in some cases.

Should you be worried?

If you’re an expat in China, in short, yes you should be worried. Indeed, Chinese papers show concern regarding the speed with which the epidemic is spreading to other parts of China. There have been confirmed cases in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. It is important to be careful when interacting because the disease is transmitted through coughing, spitting and is, therefore, highly infectious.

It is important to remain cautious if one is living in countries found around China as the disease seems to be travelling fast to these countries as well.

While the World Health Organization has said that it is very closely following the situation, it has said that it has not yet become a global emergency. If one is travelling, however, it is always important to remain weary of the risks.