Wuhan Coronavirus/2019-nCoV Update: January 28th, 2020

UPDATE Jan. 29th, 2020: You can view my latest daily update here.

Current extent of the 2019-nCoV outbreak in China (source: BBC)

I am growing increasingly worried as I continue to monitor news reports coming out of China.

Overnight, there was another huge jump in cases reported by China, as indicated by the graph on this up-to-date statistics panel created by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, drawing from credible, official case reports from health agencies worldwide:

To me, the graph of the number of cases within mainland China is starting to look like an exponential growth curve. It is the first indication that we are facing a situation where each new case of the 2019-nCoV virus is infecting two, three, or more people in turn. It means that the Wuhan coronavirus could well spread worldwide, despite our best global efforts to stop it through travel restrictions and quarantines.

TIME magazine reports that researchers in Hong Kong are warning that the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Wuhan could already be more than 30 times higher the the official tally of cases released by the government, in this new, two-minute YouTube video:

Helen Branswell, a reporter for STAT News (a new U.S. website focusing on health, medicine and life sciences from Boston Globe Media Partners), and formerly a 15-year medical reporter for The Canada Press who very capably covered previous health crises such as SARS and Ebola, wrote yesterday in an article for Scientific American magazine:

Some infectious disease experts are warning that it may no longer be feasible to contain the new coronavirus circulating in China. Failure to stop it there could see the virus spread in a sustained way around the world and even perhaps join the ranks of respiratory viruses that regularly infect people.

“The more we learn about it, the greater the possibility is that transmission will not be able to be controlled with public health measures,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, a Toronto-based infectious disease specialist who contracted SARS in 2003 and who helped Saudi Arabia control several hospital-based outbreaks of MERS.

If that’s the case, she said, “we’re living with a new human virus, and we’re going to find out if it will spread around the globe.” McGeer cautioned that because the true severity of the outbreak isn’t yet known, it’s impossible to predict what the impact of that spread would be, though she noted it would likely pose significant challenges to health care facilities.

The pessimistic assessment comes from both researchers studying the dynamics of the outbreak—the rate at which cases are rising in and emerging from China—and infectious diseases experts who are parsing the first published studies describing cases to see if public health tools such as isolation and quarantine could as effective in this outbreak as they were in the 2003 SARS epidemic.

Somebody asked me yesterday on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server if it wouldn’t be better if they just got infected with 2019-nCoV and be done with it, thinking that once you had it and recovered, you would be immune. I replied that, based on what I have read so far, approximately 20% of the people who catch the Wuhan coronavirus develop severe, life-threatening health problems: fever, pneumonia, liver and kidney failure, death. Would you take a one-in-five chance on that happening?

Or let’s put it another way. Let’s say you are young, perfectly healthy, and have nothing to fear from a virus. Scientists already have reported that you can transmit the virus to other people even if you do not feel sick yourself. Germany’s first case of 2019-nCoV was a man who was infected by a Chinese colleague who visited him in Bavaria, who did not begin to feel sick until her flight home.

Even if you are healthy and asymptomatic, are you willing to infect others who may develop a severe, life-threatening reaction: children, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, or HIV+? It’s not just about you; it’s about everyone around you that you come into contact with over the course of your day. And who they in turn come into contact with.

A Jan. 24th report by WIRED on the mathematical modeling of the spread of the virus by researchers provides some worrying estimates:

Using case data scraped from official reports, a team led by Jonathan Read at Lancaster University plotted a temporal map of the coronavirus’s spread, starting on January 1, when local authorities closed the meat-and-animal market where the virus is believed to have crossed into humans from an unknown source. They worked under the assumption that any spread following the first of the year could only be between humans.

The models they constructed predict a dire start to February: further outbreaks in other Chinese cities, more infections exported abroad, and an explosion of cases in Wuhan. “In 14 days’ time, our model predicts the number of infected people in Wuhan to be greater than 190,000,” the authors write.

No hospital system, anywhere on earth, will be able to cope with tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people, becoming sick all at the same time, with approximately 20% of them having severe problems requiring intensive care. There simply aren’t enough beds. There have been reports that hospitals in Wuhan are already turning sick people away because they can’t admit any more patients, no matter how ill they are. It doesn’t matter how many prefabricated 1,000-bed hospitals that the Chinese Communist Party builds in Wuhan, or how fast they can build them; it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the number of cases that will arise.

I don’t know about the area where you live, but where I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a first-world country with an excellent healthcare system, our hospitals are already being stretched to the limit, just dealing with the regular seasonal influenza cases that are coming in right now. There is zero extra capacity in our local hospitals to deal with a potential global pandemic. And I suspect that this is the case in most other cities and countries too.

Good Sources of Information on 2019-nCoV

Here is my updated list of good, authoritative resources to learn more about the Wuhan coronoavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV):

Sources of Fast-Breaking News on 2019-nCoV (WARNING: News You Read Here May Not Be 100% Credible!)

PLEASE READ: In addition to the sources listed in the previous section, there are other places you can check, which might have reports (including translated links to local social media in China) that have not yet made the mainstream news media. Please keep in mind that the situation in China is chaotic, and that some of the information you find in the sources I list below might be gossip, rumours, misinformation, or disinformation! If you are already feeling anxious, I would recommend you avoid these sources, but if, like me, you want to get a fuller picture of what’s going on, then I provide the links below.

Stay healthy!

Wuhan Coronavirus/2019-nCoV Update: January 27th, 2020

UPDATE Jan. 28th, 2020: You can view my latest daily update here.

I don’t have a lot of major news to report today. I’m feeling somewhat stressed out trying to keep on top of this, so I am probably going to turn off the news until later this evening, put up my feet, and try to relax.

I did watch the press conference held in Toronto, Ontario concerning the first Canadian case of 2019-nCoV, a man who flew from Wuhan to Toronto with his wife. The man’s case is now confirmed (by the Canadian national microbiology laboratory in Winnipeg), and his wife is now considered to be a second, “presumptive” case (verified by the Ontario Ministry of Health, to be verified by the Winnipeg lab before officially labeled “confirmed”). Apparently she is not as sick as her husband, and is under self-quarantine in her home.

The following infographic is courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which also livestreamed the press conference earlier today:

Coronavirus Prevention Tips (source: CBC)

Please see yesterday’s update for a list of links to good, authoritative information sources about the 2019-nCoV virus, as well as a few links to places to check if you want information that has not yet reached the mainstream news media (but may be more suspect).

And speaking of suspect information, you might want to read this list of hoaxes and crackpot conspiracy theories about 2019-nCoV already making the rounds, courtesy of the Politifact website. (BuzzFeed News has a running list of coronavirus disinformation making the rounds of social media, too.) Forewarned is forearmed.

And that’s all for me at the moment! Keep your fingers crossed.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Just One of the Guys

I don’t blog about Second Life freebies for men as often as I do for the women, but there are a couple of nice freebies I wanted to mention today.

Amazing Creations has monthly free group gifts for both men and women (the store group is free to join), and this month’s men’s gift is this casual outfit, which includes the boots (here’s the exact SLURL to find the gift panel in the Amazing Creations store):

The best part of this outfit is that it is all in one piece: the shirt, jeans, and boots are all one werable mesh object. Just alpha out your body and your feet and you’re all set!

Another freebie is available without a group join at the Peak Lounge event taking place in Second Life this weekend. There are three free group gifts, and one of them is a set of beer props (see red arrow):

The set comes with a wearable sixpack of beer for one hand and a beer bottle for the other, both with Bento hand poses:

There’s also a rezzable sixpack for decoration purposes. Out guy is all set for his next party!

I’m not sure how long the Peak Lounge freebies will be available, so if you’re interested, head down there this weekend! Here’s the SLURL.

This avatar is also wearing:

  • Mesh Body and Head: Romeo by Altamura (a free group gift from last Valentine’s Day; no longer available for free)
  • Hair: Anderson by Alli&Ali Designs (which I picked up for free at an in-world conference last year)
  • Animation Override: Daily sLIFE Free Bento Male AO (free gift from Tuty)


Wuhan Coronavirus Update: January 26th, 2020

Time for my daily update on the evolving Wuhan coronavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV, or novel coronavirus) situation. Again, I will be providing links to credible, authoritative information, as well as a bit of analysis, and some predictions of what will happen next, both within China and globally as the virus spreads. (I plan to write up a daily blogpost on my blog as the situation develops.)

What You Need to Know About 2019-nCoV

The South China Morning Post reported this morning:

Ma Xiaowei, the minister in charge of China’s National Health Commission (NHC), told a press conference that battling the outbreak was complicated, particularly as it had been discovered that the new virus could be transmitted even during incubation period, which did not happen with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

“From observations, the virus is capable of transmission even during incubation period,” Ma said, adding that the incubation period lasted from one to 14 days.

“Some patients have normal temperatures and there are many milder cases. There are hidden carriers,” he said.

Al Jazeera news reports that the virus appears to be becoming more contagious as it spreads from person to person, which will make containment even more difficult:

China’s National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said the incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days, during which infection can occur, which was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

SARS was a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

“According to recent clinical information, the virus’ ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger,” Ma told reporters.

Infographic Explaining 2019-nCoV Infection (source)

The New York Times reports that Chinese government bureaucracy may be partly to blame for the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus:

China’s rigid bureaucracy discourages local officials from raising bad news with central bosses and it silos officials off from one another, making it harder to manage, or even see, a crisis in the making.

“That’s why you never really hear about problems emerging on a local scale in China,” said John Yasuda, who studies China’s approach to health crises at Indiana University. “By the time that we hear about it, and that the problem reaches the central government, it’s because it’s become a huge problem.”

Those systemic flaws appear to have played a role in the pace at which officials responded to the outbreak, and the country’s inability to address the health risks from its so-called wet markets, which are stuffed with livestock living and dead, domesticated and wild.

China is now mobilizing a nationwide response involving hundreds of personnel, one of the system’s strengths.

According to TIME, China has now imposed travel restrictions on some 50 million people, an absolutely unprecedented measure:

China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan on Wednesday, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

What Can We Expect?

So, what can we expect in the coming days and weeks, as the virus begins to accelerate within China and more cases start popping up abroad?

However, if other governments can successfully contain the cases which are being reported outside China (as appears to be the case in Toronto, which yesterday evening reported the first Canadian patient infected with 2019-nCoV), then the rest of the world might be able to avoid the kind of things we are currently seeing happen in various Chinese cities and provinces, according to mainstream news reports and social media:

  • The shutdown of many places where people gather, such as festivals, theatres, marketplaces, etc.;
  • The closing of schools, businesses, and public transportation;
  • People imposing self-quarantine within their homes in an effort to avoid becoming sick.

It is easy to read the headlines and feel anxiety, dread, even a sense of panic. Panic is absolutely the last thing we need right now; if you are not in China, you still have a window of opportunity to take action and prepare for a potential global pandemic. Use that nervous energy and put it towards concrete tasks that will help you get ready. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

For example, yesterday I went to the pharmacy and renewed all of my prescriptions, and stocked up on a few essentials like toilet paper and garbage bags. The Personal Health Preparedness Guidelines issues by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control offer useful, practical lists of things to buy to best prepare for an emergency situation such as this. Look them over, draw up a shopping list, and stock up on what you need, should you be forced to stay at home for a week or two. Don’t panic; prepare.

Good Sources of Information on 2019-nCoV

Here are some credible, official sources of information on the Wuhan coronavirus:

If you want a quick overview of what’s going on, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University has created a statistics panel with the latest information at a glance, drawing from credible, official case reports from health agencies worldwide.

Sources of Fast-Breaking News on 2019-nCoV (WARNING: May Not Be 100% Credible!)

PLEASE READ: In addition to the sources listed in the previous section, there are other places you can check, which might have reports (including translated links to local social media in China) that have not yet made the mainstream news media. Please keep in mind that the situation in China is chaotic, and that some of the information you find in the sources I list below might be gossip, rumours, misinformation, or disinformation! If you are already feeling anxious, I would recommend you avoid these sources, but if, like me, you want to get a fuller picture of what’s going on, then I provide the links below.

Stay healthy!