Deadly Virus: Residents On The Verge Of Tears Following Lockdown

Pedestrians wear face masks as they walk outside the New Orient Landmark hotel in Macau on January 22, 2020, after the former Portuguese colony reported its first case of the new SARS-like virus that originated from Wuhan in China. PHOTO: Anthony WALLACE / AFP

 

Wuhan residents called for help and shared worries of food shortages on Thursday, with some on the “verge of tears”, after the virus-hit central Chinese city was put on effective lockdown.

Planes and trains out of the city — the epicentre of a new SARS-like virus — were cancelled, with public transport suspended and residents ordered not to leave in a bid to control the spread of the disease.

But near-empty trains and planes were still heading into the city of 11 million on Thursday, with hardy passengers donning surgical masks and gloves to brave the journey.

The lockdown comes on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of millions of Chinese take to planes, trains and roads to visit relatives in what is the world’s biggest annual movement of people.

The search term “Wuhan is sealed off” had been read over a billion times on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform by Thursday afternoon with some 344,000 discussion posts.

Some residents said they were on the “verge of tears” as they read news of the lockdown.

“We consciously avoid going out, disinfect diligently and wear masks,” wrote one user in a social media post.

“But there is a lack of food and disinfectants, and we need more resources. We hope everyone can understand that we are feeling as though it is the end of the world.”

The number of confirmed deaths has risen to 17, with more than 570 confirmed infected, officials said.

Few people were seen wandering in the streets, the road were empty, official events had been cancelled and state media said authorities ordered everyone to wear masks in public.

At one hotel, guests were checked for fevers and handed anti-bacterial gel.

The few passengers aboard one train arriving from Shanghai were wearing masks and gloves, but some put on a brave face.

‘Not scared’

“Some people had their plans affected, but mine were not. I wanted to go home,” said a 28-year-old man surnamed Fang who works in the property industry.

“My family and I are not scared at all,” said a Wuhan resident surnamed Zhou boarding a nearly-empty flight back to the city from Beijing with her 8-year-old child.

In the city though, residents were more fearful.

“I have not gone out of the house for around two days,” a 26-year-old surnamed Mao told AFP.

He said last time he went out, surgical masks were selling for a higher-than-normal price of 50 RMB ($7). After he bought some, the person behind him in the queue bought the remaining stock in the shop.

Some residents online were calling on the government to provide more resources, saying there were not enough masks and food prices were rising.

Many internet users from outside the city expressed sadness and concern for residents, urging them to stay safe, while others questioned why the city was not sealed off sooner.

Some blamed people in Wuhan for eating wild animals.

It is believed that animals are the primary source of the outbreak, and a now-closed seafood market in Wuhan where wild animals were illegally sold has been identified as ground zero.

“Do people enjoy eating wild animals that much?” one social media user asked. “Hasn’t the lesson from SARS been enough?”

A video being shared on social media showed a bride in a nearby city wearing a surgical mask, and saying that all the guests who had visited Wuhan for work had been seated at the same table.

All group tours out of Wuhan have been cancelled until February 8, while tourist attractions and star-rated hotels have been told to suspend all large-scale activities until that date.

The annual prayer-giving at the city’s Guiyuan Temple, a major Lunar New Year event that attracted 700,000 people last year, was scrapped.

AFP

Ebola Vaccine Arrives In DR Congo Amid Outbreak

In this handout photograph released by UNICEF on May 13, 2018, health workers wear protective equipment as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital – the epicentre of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo PHOTO: MARK NAFTALIN / UNICEF / AFP

 

Thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine arrived Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is facing an outbreak of the deadly virus, the health ministry said.

Congolese authorities declared the outbreak in the northwest region near Congo-Brazzaville on May 8, and three have died from the disease, according to an official toll.

The number of reported cases is 42, including two confirmed, according to a World Health Organization tally.

“Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning,” said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga. They would be kept in Kinshasa until a refrigerated transportation chain could be guaranteed.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was “high” and announced it was preparing for the “worst case scenario”.

Chief executive Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the affected Bikoro area last weekend, saying he hoped for a “better way out” of the latest outbreak in DRC.

Oxfam announced Wednesday that it has made available an initial $68,000 (57,000 euros) to fight the spread of the disease.

Ebola is one of the world’s most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring West African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases.

AFP

U.S. Warns Health Officials To Be Alert For Deadly New virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8.

Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.

The virus is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but like the SARS virus, it is similar to those found in bats.

So far, no cases have been reported in the United States.

According to the CDC’s analysis, the infections in Britain started with a 60-year-old man who had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and developed a respiratory illness on January 24, 2013. Samples from the man showed he was infected with both the new virus and with H1N1, or swine flu.

This man subsequently passed the infection to two members of his household: a male with an underlying illness who became ill on February 6 and subsequently died; and a healthy adult female in his household who developed a respiratory illness on February 5, but who did not need to be hospitalized and has recovered.

The CDC said people who develop a severe acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of returning from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries should continue to be evaluated according to current guidelines.

The health agency said doctors should be watchful of patients who develop an unexplained respiratory infection within 10 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries. The CDC has set up a special website with updates on the infections at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ncv/ .

Symptoms of infection with this new virus include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organisation has issued travel restrictions related to the virus.