Coronavirus! Run for the hills!
The history of animal virus’s transferring over to humans is pretty nasty. From HIV to SARS, bird flu, and now Coronavirus.
Unlike during the SARS outbreak in 2002/3, when 800 people died, the Chinese government appears to be much more open about this Coronavirus, where the first outbreak was, what kind of threat it is, and what action should be taken.
Cities in Lockdown
With the virus originally appearing in Wuhan, the Chinese government has now blocked all transport in or out, effectively quarantining the population there. They have extended this lockdown to five other cities mostly nearby the original outbreak.
Deaths and cases
There are currently 584 confirmed cases, with 17 deaths. These have mainly occurred within mainland China, although the US looks like it has two cases, and the United Kingdom and Ireland probably have six or so cases. This is all moving so rapidly, that by the time you read this, the figures quoted will probably be outdated.
Advice to Australians
The general advice is as you would expect – ‘exercise normal safety precautions’, but they are advising that people reconsider their need to travel to Wuhan in Hubei Province.
‘We now advise all Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Wuhan. The Chinese authorities have put new measures in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus. This includes wearing masks in public places and avoiding travel in and out of Wuhan. Monitor local media for further updates.’https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/china – last update 23 January
In January, Chinese authorities identified an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus, in Wuhan City in Hubei Province. If you have travelled to Wuhan and have developed symptoms of respiratory illness, contact your doctor. See our health section for more information.’
In Sydney, authorities have been providing educative information and screening for travellers coming directly from Wuhan, but since direct flights have been stopped, I’m not sure what the screening process is currently.
Should you travel?
Well, that’s up to you. It depends on what standard of risk you are comfortable with.
My GP (General Practitioner) always says that Airports – merely because of the number of people transiting, and their diversity of origins, are little disease factories. So, if you are travelling, then you should probably wear an ‘N’ classification face mask, one that filters for viruses.
What would I do?
If I was travelling to China – I would probably cancel unless the travel was essential, in which case, I would arm myself with a mask, and the maximum permissible quantity of alcohol wipes and alcohol based hand sanitiser, and I would be a bit Naomi Campbel about it.
Cut the hysteria, and be sensible. We know very little about the current virus.
- It looks like it only manifests itself as a cold/flu in otherwise healthy people – but we don’t know.
- It looks like it can be caught through air-borne transmission – we are fairly sure.
- It can kill – but it looks like, the risk only applies to those with some other problem or co-morbidity – but we are not certain.
For more thorough evidence-based advice, read the article about Naomi Campbell’s seat cleaning routine, but read until the end for practical advice that actually works.