Staff Writer/Copy Editor
There have been many updated on the Coronavirus and drastic changes have been made. To say the least, I’m very surprised. It’s not often that we as a society get the chance to observe a viral epidemic of this proportion, the last major ones being the 2009 H1N1 nd 2016 Ebola outbreaks.
The latest count from my last report has jumped from 600 confirmed cases and 17 deaths to 9,835 confirmed cases and 213 deaths, most of the deaths being from the elderly demographic. Instead of the virus only presenting itself in five countries as it did originally, it is now present in sporadic numbers in 21 others, with five cases presented in the U.S.
The city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, looks like a ghost town. Very few people are walking around as they have been told to stay home. Very few people are going to work. The only places where people are flocking to are grocery stores and markets where supplies are dwindling. Most people are staying away from all meat products as a precaution.
Going out in public proves to be a feat as all private transportation has been banned for the time being. To make up for this, a fleet of six thousand taxis have been deployed to attempt to make up for the influx, but most citizens are wary of them because of the possibility of disease. The rail systems and flights from Wuhan have been shut down and restricted.
Most Chinese airports are using thermal imaging and forehead thermometers to detect anyone traveling to see if they have a fever. Numerous airports in countries around the world are using the same techniques for people inbound on flights from China. Many countries are considering the closure of flights and specific airlines from China. Because of these closures and the risk of infection, foreign nationals of a number of countries are being evacuated back to their country of origin and are being quarantined. This is the situation for the U.S. as of now.
The conditions at Chinese hospitals are egregious. Emergency room waiting times are roughly five to six hours per person. Healthcare professionals are running low on personal protective equipment like masks and gloves. To the extreme, some of these doctors and nurses have resorted to wearing adult diapers because they don’t have the time to even go to the bathroom.
The Chinese are resorting to building hospitals in record time in order to deal with the influx of patients flocking to the hospitals. Some hospitals are even completely closed due to being ill-equipped or understaffed.
All of these instances sound like it’s from an apocalyptic novel or film. Perhaps certain aspects may be blown out of proportion. All we can ask people to do is not to be afraid and stay informed. Typically with more reputable information, we can obtain the facts and then decide if it is time to worry.
Even though this event is happening so suddenly, with diligent handwashing, hygiene, and overall awareness of those that may be sick around us, we can stay protected against germs and diseases.
All in all, the World Health Organization and the CDC need to establish epidemic hazards and use emergency protocols before this gets completely out of hand. With this, all travel to and from China should be restricted until this blows over, even if it is a blow to the economy. A vaccine is currently being developed but may take around three months to be available to the general public.