I took yesterday off from blogging about the 2019-nCoV virus (soon to receive an official name), and I do plan to take more breaks as necessary in the coming days and weeks, as a self-care measure.
Like many of you, I find myself worrying a lot about the current situation, and every so often I need to step away from all the news feeds and focus on other tasks on my “to-do” list for February.
So, don’t expect daily coronavirus updates from here on out.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported (archived copy) that the Chinese government was taking even more draconian measures to stem the spread of the 2019-nCoV virus at the outbreak’s epicenter in the city of Wuhan:
The Chinese authorities resorted to increasingly extreme measures in Wuhan on Thursday to try to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, ordering house-to-house searches, rounding up the sick and warehousing them in enormous quarantine centers.
The urgent, seemingly improvised steps come amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Wuhan, one exacerbated by tactics that have left this city of 11 million with a death rate from the coronavirus of 4.1 percent as of Thursday — staggeringly higher than the rest of the country’s rate of 0.17 percent.
With the sick being herded into makeshift quarantine camps, with minimal medical care, a growing sense of abandonment and fear has taken hold in Wuhan, fueling the sense that the city and surrounding province of Hubei are being sacrificed for the greater good of China.
The harsh new moves in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, clearly signaled the ruling Communist Party’s alarm that it had failed to gain control of the coronavirus epidemic, which has overwhelmed the country’s health care system and threatened to paralyze China, the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy.
The steps were announced by the top official leading the country’s response to the virus, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, as she visited Wuhan on Thursday. They evoked images of the emergency measures taken to combat the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed tens of millions people worldwide. Despite the severity of the new measures, however, they offered no guarantee of success.
Meanwhile, the number of cases on a cruise ship docked at Yokohama, Japan has reached 61, a testament to how easily the 2019-nCoV virus can be transmitted in close quarters. Among those infected are several Canadian tourists. All passengers on the cruise ship have been confined to their cabins in an attempt to stop further spread of the virus.
CBC interviewed some Canadian passengers in quarantine on the cruise ship:
Passengers from Toronto aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan after a coronavirus outbreak are questioning how they’ll cope for two weeks restricted to cramped cabins.
“We have no window. We have no daylight. They haven’t let us out yet for fresh air,” said Lana Chan.
“We’ve been cooped up in this little room for two and a half days now.”
Chan is travelling with three friends on the Diamond Princess, along with some 3,700 other people. She’s rooming with one of them in a 180-square-foot room in the ship’s interior.
Even worse, the World Health Organization has confirmed that the 14-day quarantine period resets every time a new infected person is found on the cruise ship. Those poor people may be cooped up in their tiny cabins for a long time!
Good Sources of Information on 2019-nCoV
Here is my list of good, credible, authoritative resources to learn more about the Wuhan coronoavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV):
- the United Nations World Health Organization
- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Personal Health Preparedness information from the U.S. CDC
- Health Canada, including an FAQ and a fact sheet
- Public Health Canada
- Information for the Public from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England (U.K.)
- Public Health Ontario (Canada)
- Coronavirus Information for the Public (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; see also this series of tweets)
- University of Chicago Medicine
- 2019-2020 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (Wikipedia)
- Dr. Roger Seheult is posting short videos to his YouTube channel, explaining the medical concepts behind the Wuhan coronavirus in an easy-to-understand way
If you want a quick, up-to-date overview of the current situation, here are three good places to check:
- 2019-nCoV Global Cases (by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University)
- Tracking coronavirus: Map, Data and Timeline by BNO News
- the Wikipedia article on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is constantly updated by an army of volunteer editors, and provides a good overall summary of the situation
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, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, misinformation, or disinformation!
Please review the information and videos I posted in my blogpost about How to Spot Fake News, BEFORE using any of these links.
- The FluTrackers.com discussion forum
- The China_Flu subReddit, their wiki with FAQ, and their new official website
- The Intelliwatch Discord server (invite link) is a geopolitical events and crises discussion forum that has three channels devoted to 2019-nCoV/Wuhan coronavirus news, rumours, and speculation.
- The Corona Virus (2019-nCoV) Discord server (invite link)
- If you want a credible list of people to follow on Twitter, epidemiologist Dr. Ellie Murray has compiled a curated list of coronavirus experts that you can subscribe to.