The News: The World Health Organisation has just declared that coronavirus is a global emergency. Ever since the news of deaths in China from the new coronavirus, [more here] World Health authorities have been working overtime to think of solutions on how to tackle it. Here’s a quick update on what’s happening.
- China has over 57 million people in ‘lockdown’ in the Hubei region, especially in Wuhan, which is at the heart of the outbreaks. That means no one can get in or out. The authorities have taken this measure to contain the virus spreading as it spreads quickly from person to person.
- There were 7,711 cases in China, as reported on the BBC website on 30 January.
- China built a 1000 bed hospital for coronavirus patients in 48 hours! Over 500 construction workers, electricians and engineers worked around the clock to get it up and running.
- China is allowing foreign nationals to be evacuated out of the region by their governments. These citizens will be quarantined in their countries (kept in isolation until they show no signs of the virus) before being allowed to go back home.
- There have been about 115 cases of the virus in many countries outside of China.
- India has also reported its first case. A student who has returned to Kerala from Wuhan has tested positive, and has been kept in isolation to inhibit contact with others.
- Some of the people infected have not been to China, confirming that the virus is spreading from person to person.
- The Indoor World Athletics Championships in Nanjing, China, which has been postponed till next year.
- Many qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics this year have also been postponed.
- British Airways and Air Canada have cancelled all flights to and from China. Other airlines have cut back on flights and may also stop completely.
- Russia has totally closed its eastern border with China.
- Global companies like Google, Starbucks, Ikea, Tesla and Disney have stopped working and shut all shops in China.
- Schools were on holiday for the Chinese New Year, and those holidays have been extended.
- The WHO is recommending strong ‘containment’ efforts. These are efforts made to stop the virus from spreading. This means measures like more travel restrictions, land and airport screenings, and isolation of people with suspected infections. These kinds of strict restrictions helped to stop similar outbreaks in the past.
- Money is being made available to come up with medical cures and a vaccine.
- Chinese scientists have very quickly analysed the virus and shared its DNA sequence with the world, and researchers are racing to develop a vaccine against the virus.
- Scientists are also collecting samples from infected people to grow the virus in laboratories. They can then check which medicines can be used to develop treat the disease and develop a vaccine against it.
While everyone must take proper precautions against the virus, we must also remain calm. The actual mortality rate – the number of people who have died out of every 100 infected – is around 2%. Let’s hope that all the fantastic scientists out there are able to come up with a vaccine super quick!
In the meantime, you should definitely be washing your hands regularly. Do cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, and avoid contact with people who have a cold and cough. Simple preventive measures can go a long way!
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.