Coronavirus concerns

There are worldwide concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in China as it spreads to other countries, including Australia.

Reuters – Coronavirus contagion rate makes it hard to control: studies

Each person infected with coronavirus is passing the disease on to between two and three other people on average at current transmission rates, according to two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic.

Whether the outbreak will continue to spread at this rate depends on the effectiveness of control measures, the scientists who conducted the studies said. But to be able to contain the epidemic and turn the tide of infections, control measures would have to halt transmission in at least 60% of cases.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 41 on Saturday, with more than 1,400 people infected worldwide – the vast majority in China.

Reuters – Hong Kong bans entry of visitors from China virus province

Residents of China’s Hubei province, where the new coronavirus outbreak was first reported, will be banned from entering Hong Kong from Monday as China tries to halt the rapid spread of the outbreak.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after more than 2,000 people were infected in China and 56 have died.

A handful of cases of infection have been reported in other countries, including Thailand, Australia, the United States, France and Canada. No fatalities have been recorded outside China.

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

The World Health Organization this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can contain the epidemic.

Reuters – Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

Here is what we know so far:

** As of midnight in Beijing (1600 GMT) on Jan. 25, the death toll in China had risen to 56, authorities reported. Some 1,975 people in China had been infected with the virus.

** The coronavirus transmission ability is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said.

** China temporarily bans wildlife trade nationwide in markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms, authorities said.

** The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.

** Thailand has reported eight infection cases; Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia have reported four; the United States, France, Japan three; Vietnam and South Korea two apiece and Canada and Nepal one.

** No reported fatalities outside China

** The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency.

** Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

** China says the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.

** Two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic say each person infected is passing the disease on to between two and three other people.

** Those most affected are older people and those with underlying health conditions.

** Three research teams have begun work on developing potential vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said. Scientists hope to be testing the first possible vaccines in three months’ time.

** Beijing will delay reopening the city’s kindergartens, schools and universities, state-owned China National Radio (CNR) said on its official Weibo page.

** China may “appropriately” extend the Lunar New Year holiday, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a working group meeting hosted by China’s premier Li Keqiang.

** Taiwan further tightens restrictions on visitors from China, suspending entry for many apart from business travellers and a few other exceptions.

** Hong Kong’s popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean Park are closed from Jan. 26, state media CCTV reported.

** Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is under severe travel restrictions, with urban transport shut and outgoing flights suspended.

** Tourist access to Beijing’s Forbidden City closed and large gatherings cancelled, including two Lunar New Year temple fairs, and closed part of the Great Wall.

** Hong Kong has declared an emergency and will extend school holiday closures until Feb. 17. The city also cancelled all official Lunar New Year celebrations and official visits to mainland China.

** Airports around the world have stepped up screening.

** Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

RNZ – Government alert to coronavirus but not alarmed, says Minister

Health staff will meet flights arriving in New Zealand from China tomorrow, looking for signs of the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, after four confirmed cases in Australia.

Health Minister David Clark announced this afternoon that public health staff will be on the ground in Auckland and Christchurch International Airports to take the temperature of incoming passengers who felt unwell.

David Clark said he had been advised the risk of an outbreak in New Zealand remained low and said the government was active and alert, but not alarmed.

“At this stage we have said that we are very alert to any potential risks. The evidence is that so far there have been no cases of communication person to person outside of China but this is a rapidly developing situation and that’s why we’re taking such a cautious and prepared approach.”

He said anyone displaying symptoms will be appropriately contained and any contact with others will be traced.

Dr Clark said the checks were a precaution, but public health staff would remain at the airports for the foreseeable future.

He is urging people to reconsider any travel plans to China and said unnecessary travel to areas of infection should be avoided.

Dr Clark will take a paper to cabinet on Tuesday, to make the novel coronavirus a notifiable disease.

The Ministry of Health said New Zealand laboratories should be ready to test for the novel coronavirus later in the week.

Stuff – What does the coronavirus epidemic mean for New Zealand?

This epidemic is already having an impact on New Zealand that is likely to grow over time. There is grief and worry for those at the centre of the epidemic in China.

There is the risk of imported and sustained disease in this country. And also the economic impact that is already being manifested in financial markets and may impact on tourist flows to New Zealand.

Of these concerns, the threat of importing disease to New Zealand is probably receiving most attention, as it is one risk that we have the ability to manage. It is stating the obvious to say that we live in a highly connected world with most countries just one or two flights away from China.

If spread continues to occur we are likely to see imported coronavirus cases in New Zealand, just as such cases are being detected in Australia and a growing number of other countries.

The future course of this epidemic is unpredictable. New Zealand is fortunate in having a number of advantages in combating this threat.

Another protective factor for New Zealand is timing. Respiratory viruses of all sorts are highly seasonal and conditions in summer (eg people spending less time indoors) reduce their transmission.

New Zealand has an established pandemic plan and experience with rolling this out during the last influenza pandemic in 2009.

One limitation is that the ‘keep it out’ component of our pandemic plan remains under-developed. Our very small national and regional public health capacity could be easily swamped if a coronavirus epidemic became established here.

Another major challenge for New Zealand is to ensure it does not export this coronavirus to Pacific Islands, where it could be devastating. Now is the time to be thinking about how to minimise this risk.

One good thing in our modern world is this information and scrutiny of what is happening gets around very quickly, with protections and precautions able to be put in place to contain the spread.

But with a lot of rapid world wide travel something like this could be difficult to contain.

And the coronavirus is having an impact here before any known cases in New Zealand.

RNZ – Coronavirus will have impact on Queenstown tourism, says mayor

The deadly coronavirus outbreak has come at the worst possible time for tourism operators in the middle of summer and the Chinese New Year, Queenstown’s mayor says.

Chinese tourists accounted for more than $220 million of spending in the Queenstown Lakes District in the year to October.

Tourism operators are already reporting cancellations as China suspends overseas and domestic group tours as the outbreak worsens.

Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said it was too early to know what effect the outbreak would have on tourism in the area but it would be significant.

“The timing couldn’t be worse because this is probably the biggest week of the industry with Chinese New Year. I guess it’s not a complete disaster because a number of them are already here but the issue will have a significant effect on the tourism industry,” he said.

New Zealand Chinese Travel and Tourism Association chair Simon Cheung said he woke this morning to find tours from China had already been cancelled and other operators would be in the same boat.

Impact on travel and tourism and business is an unfortunate side effect, but limiting the spread is more important – if there was an outbreak of coronavirus in Queenstown or anywhere in New Zealand the impact would be far greater.

Stuff – China arrivals to be checked

Public health staff will begin meeting flights from China from Monday to look for signs of coronavirus.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  27th January 2020

    No doubt behind the scenes things will be moving along. Regional hospitals will ask to check their body bag count and implement triage procedures supplied by the Ministry Of Health. That basically means in a critical situation who’s going to be treated and who’s going to be left to die. It’s at times like this that those who have studied both survival and alternative medicines will have more odds in their favour. The rest will faithfully follow government instructions into oblivion. There is a tipping point in a crisis where it’s every man for himself.

    Interesting to note the supposed beginning of this virus was a market that sold every type of animal for consumption including Koala Bears. You may see why immigrants to NZ do it hard.

    Also it should be pointed out viruses aren’t living entities. That raises some interesting points.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  27th January 2020

      No suggestion the death rate is any greater than a normal flu season. China has 1.4 bill people , Wuhan has 12 mill.
      Its just another media beatup for readers and viewers, unless that death rate rises , thats why WHO hasnt classed it as an emergency

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  27th January 2020

        I’m not sure about this. I don’t have enough data. I’ll wait until the 26,000 Chinese students descend on us to see what happens. One month after they arrive should indicated whether further action is required.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  27th January 2020

          Are there any photos of the koalas ? How did they arrive in China ?

          The hysteria over this virus is absurd. The chance of hospitals counting body bags and deciding who to treat and who should be left to die is probably nil.

          ‘Enter Rumour, painted full of tongues.’

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  27th January 2020

          Obviously someone who doesn’t know STANDARD procedure when there is any POSSIBILITY of an epidemic. Funny how people jump to conclusions. To be fair they don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  27th January 2020

            I suppose that you do.

            I worked in a hospital for two years as a student nurse. I have yet to hear of body bags being counted, or decisions being made in advance about who will be left to die before a virus has even hit the country. Body bags ???

            This is a specific coronavirus, but there are many coronaviruses.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th January 2020

              In fact, most people will have one at least once in their lifetime.

          • Corky

             /  27th January 2020

            I think there’s a big difference from being a nurse in the 30’s to now in 2020.
            Things do evolve; protocols do change.

            I now believe it would be prudent to ban Chinese students from this country until the situation becomes clearer. I don’t envie the government having to make that decision. If they get it wrong they will never be forgiven. They will forever be the government who had blood on their hands. National will sleepwalk to victory.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th January 2020

              They won’t ban Chinese students. Only hysterical neurotics would want it to happen.

              Yes, there are those who are overeacting in a hysterical way and grossly exaggerating the danger, not realising that coronaviruses are everywhere and this is not the first.

          • Corky

             /  27th January 2020

            I have family in the health system. Doctors, nurses and administration. I also have a funeral director friend. What may not be know is the Health Ministry
            has protocols ALL funeral directors must follow in the case of a pandemic.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th January 2020

              At your age, you should know what nursing was like then, of course. You probably remember when penicillin was the new wonder drug.

              I knew that you would make that claim; of course you have rellies who are those things as well as rellies who are beneficiaries, are in the teaching profession (one being a Circuit Head*), who have died of (x) , and so on and so on. It wears a bit thin when you use the claim of personal experience and/or having rellies who…..to prove your wild statements. Do you still have the obsidian that you brought back on a jetski from Mayoral Island ? 😀

              *there is, of course, no such position in teaching !

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th January 2020

              The precautions that funeral directors and others handling the body are supposed to take when the person has died of an infectious disease are long-established and well known.

              This applies to all infectious diseases like flu, not just ‘pandemics’.

            • Corky

               /  27th January 2020

              Circuit head? I think Kitty means Infant Syndicate Head😂

              Of course, like murals on a library wall…it should be easy enough to prove or disprove my claims.

              Of course, I brought back no Obsidian from Mayoral Island on a jetski. It’s Mayor Island. I do have Obsidan from Mayor Island. And I did travel to Mayor Island on a jet ski. But not together. Talk about getting confused.

              But I don’t know what this has to do with a pandemic? Personally I would scurry away and do some research.

              Body Bags? Yes or no?

            • Corky

               /  27th January 2020

              * Obsidian

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th January 2020

              You claimed that your relly was a circuit head, not an Infant Syndicate Head; this gave real teachers a good laugh as did the idea that even with help from the rellies it took eight hours to prepare their work. No teacher would be able to prepare even a term’s work in 8 hours.

              Liars should have good memories. You tell so many absurd stories that it’s hard to believe anything you say…and as the obsidian on Mayor Island is private property and not given away, it’s unlikely that you have any.

              Hospitals always have some body bags, of course. But I doubt if they will be stocking up because of this virus. Do be realistic.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  28th January 2020

              It doesn’t seem that Infant Syndicate Head exists as a position, either.That is certainly not what the relly was last time.

              If you want to claim that someone holds a position, make sure that the position exists.

  2. artcroft

     /  27th January 2020

    I just want to take he opportunity to get in first and blame John Key and National for this. Thank God we have Jacinda to emote on our behalf.

    Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  27th January 2020

    Agree Duker.
    All evidence to date suggests 2019 nCV is genetically related to SARs.

    Been waiting for the beat up it could be as bad as the Spanish Flu.
    That was deadly because it overwhelmed the immune system of young people.

    Deaths to date appear similar to earlier bat and camel variants of the conavirus that impacted more on those who were elderly or had co morbidity conditions.

    Good political capital to be made though. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/01/coronavirus-michael-woodhouse-blasts-julie-anne-genter-david-clark-over-preparations-for-outbreak.html

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  27th January 2020

      Its Newshub outrage generator.
      The experts…[funny how they dont bother with ‘scientists say’ unless they want to call weather as climate] view is here
      Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
      http://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/news–wuhan-coronavirus/

      “uncertainties include the severity spectrum of the disease caused by this virus and whether cases with relatively mild symptoms are able to transmit the virus efficiently.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  27th January 2020

        I would be very surprised if there really were koalas, alive or dead, sold as meat in the market that’s being blamed. Apart from anything else, they’d be all but impossible to obtain and the cost would be prohibitive. Where and how would they get them ?

        The hysterical over-reaction says more about the people doing it than it does about the disease. Given the number who die of the ordinary flu (about 100 in NZ each year) the hysteria seems overdone.

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  27th January 2020

      Great stuff. Thanks for that Noel. What worries me is Chinese social media is reporting the situation is way more serious than official media channels are reporting.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  28th January 2020

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7929657/Nurse-treating-coronavirus-sufferers-China-claims-90-000-people-infected.html

        New Zealand’s ‘go to’ microbiologist, a woman with purple hair named Suzzie if I remember correctly, said because of our topography and population density this virus should not be a major concern. Yes, but, 26,000 Chinese students returning to study, many living in dorms, surely that’s the perfect breeding ground for an outbreak?

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  28th January 2020

          Yes, I see one Chinese education provider is worried about returning Chinese students,too.

          I also think health authorities need to lift the ban on Colloidal Silver that limits it to 10ppm strength. That needs to be increased to 20ppm. I also think standard sepsis
          treatment in hospitals needs to be chucked, and the protocols of Dr Paul Marik implemented. Of course, neither will happen. Doctors would rather see patients dying using failing conventional treatment then try something new, something that in reality is old.

          https://pulmccm.org/critical-care-review/hydrocortisone-ascorbic-acid-and-thiamine-hat-therapy-in-sepsis-a-question-answer-with-dr-paul-marik/

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  29th January 2020

          Its summer here , those sorts of respiratory illnesses are reduced in impact.
          Colloidal silver ? …..hahahaha

          Was it just a few years since the last media based virus panic , zika.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  31st January 2020

            Who is talking about a panic?

            ”Colloidal silver ? …..hahahaha.”

            What is so funny..pray tell.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st February 2020

              You are, of course.

              It’s Siouxsie, not Suzzie, I believe.

              Students here live in halls of residence, not dormitories; they don’t have large rooms with a number of beds as boarding schools traditionally had and backpacker hostels still do.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  1st February 2020

        Chinese social media is probably as reliable as any other; in other words, not very. Any hysterical scaremonger can post on it.

        You have made the claim that there are doctors in your whanau….do they prefer to let patients die using conventional treatments that don’t work rather than new ones that (supposedly) do ?

        Reply

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