Last night, I enjoyed a plate of Chinese food while I read a article about the spread of the coronavirus designated 2019-nCoV. An ironic coincidence I have to admit.
JAMA online (The Journal of the American Medical Association) published two articles last week to explain this epidemic. One refers to the cordon sanitaire–sanitary cord in English–the public health measure taken by the Chinese government on January 23rd.
This measure restricted all transportation–land, air, and waterways–to and from the city of Wuhan, where 11 million people live, as well as over 15 other cities in the province of Hubei.
Additionally, the large cities Beijing and Hong Kong have cancelled the majority of public events, as well as classes for schools and universities, until at least the middle of February.
To illustrate the state of affairs in this Asian giant, imagine the population of California, Oregon, and Washington State combined tied under the measure and Los Angeles County as the epicenter of the epidemic.
More than 50 million people are currently forced to remain home under strict law enforcement, with family members taking turns to go shopping or to medical appointments only every two days.
Nonetheless, as it has happened in the past, it is easier to carry water in one’s hands than to contain these type of pathogens. Since the onset at the end of 2019, more than 25 thousand cases have occurred worldwide, and over 500 people have died–all in China, except for one patient who died in the Philippines this weekend.
So far, 23 countries have reported cases. Based on the fast spread to other continents, the World Health Organization, WHO, raised the coronavirus alert to global emergency last Thursday, January 30th.
Hence, many airlines have canceled their routes to and from China. Several countries, including the USA and Australia, have imposed travel bans to all passengers. Starting last Friday, January 31st, a 14 day mandatory quarantine for American citizens arriving from Hubei is in place.
To face this reality we must remain calm, follow the authorities’ advice, and exercise common sense. Even if you won a trip to China, all expenses paid, cancel your plans! There will be another opportunity to post pictures on Instagram.
If you have flu-like symptoms, before you run to the ER ask yourself if in the last two weeks, the incubation period of the coronavirus: have I visited China? Have I been in contact with someone arriving from China, specially Wuhan? Have I eaten bat meat? (The last question is not a joke.)
The coronavirus family is common among these flying mammals, and the most recent studies about the genesis of the epidemic, point at this delicacy consumed by the first people infected in Wuhan.
Lastly, stay informed with the latest news from the CDC (click here for their website) and follow the recommendations of healthcare providers to prevent the contagion of this and other viruses:
- As soon as you get home, and throughout the day, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in public areas.
- If it is possible, stay away from symptomatic people at home and at work.
- If you are sick, stay home and cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow each time you sneeze or cough to keep the germs off your hands.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
P.S. Last Friday was the ceremony of the III Eagle Quills Creative Writing Contest at Timberlin Creek Elementary. I met Carito’s daughter, the sweet and talented girl that touch my heart with her story about people disappearance in Colombia. Here are some pictures.
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