One month. For now. Hong Kong does not want to repeat the catastrophic 2003 in which the SARS left about 300 dead in the city and announced yesterday that it suspended classes in nursery schools, colleges and universities until March 2 with the possibility of expanding it if the situation worsens. The authorities want to minimize risks and prevent Wuhan’s coronavirus from spreading, especially after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Thursday the international emergency and the dead increased by one day at 43. That, not forgetting the 15,238 possible infected and the more than 100,000 who remain under observation having been in contact with infected.
However, many citizens of the former British colony consider the measure insufficient and continue to exert pressure to completely close the borders. Something similar is what Singapore did yesterday in order to stop the spread of the pathogen inside, where 16 cases have already been detected. The city state has banned entry to all visitors to mainland China, including foreigners who have been there in the last 14 days.
Meanwhile, governments continue to get their citizens trapped in Hubei province, where Chinese authorities have put nearly 50 million people in quarantine. Yesterday, the first flight organized by the South Korean government with 368 of its nationals arrived in Seoul, and Colombia, Costa Rica or El Salvador announced that they would take their nationals from the zero zone, although probably to spend quarantine in other cities of the Asian giant.
Among all this uproar, in China the first cessations came before the growing criticism for the management of a crisis that has turned the country upside down. The first to fall was Tang Zhihong, responsible for the Department of Health of Huanggang City, which is the second city in the country after Wuhan with the highest number of cases, about 500 confirmed and 12 deaths. The reason: to show their ignorance before the cameras about the number of patients treated in one of the hospitals under their care.
The truth is that many doubt the transparency of the Chinese authorities when handling the situation and question the data offered and the dates given. Apocalyptic videos of the situation in Wuhan circulate in the network that try to discredit the Chinese government, but many experts believe that the measures taken are working and Beijing’s response has been blunt. “The Chinese Government has taken the most rigorous and comprehensive prevention and control measures, with a high sense of responsibility for people’s health,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “We have full confidence and ability to win this fight against the epidemic,” he added. At the same time, they thanked WHO’s cooperation. The international emergency announced by WHO “should not lead to panic,” as the decision and its recommendations “will help coordinate actions among all its member states,” said the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Chen Xu.
Meanwhile, at the medical level, the head of the department of infectious diseases of the Chinese-Japanese Friendship hospital in Beijing, Zhan Qinghhuan, admitted that “there is a risk that those who have been cured can become infected again. They must be adequately protected. As he explained, recovered patients develop antibodies that initially protect them from a new infection, but they may not remain long in their immune system with the consequent risk of becoming infected again. His words reminded us that although the one known as 2019-nCoV has a very high contagion capacity, its mortality rate does not exceed 3% and the majority of patients who die from this pneumonia exceed 60 years and have medical complications added.