Coronavirus concerns, actions and effects escalate

Last Thursday the World health organisation declared the current coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International concern.

Yesterday New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern put in place travel restrictions on anyone travelling here from or through China – New Zealand to restrict travel from China to protect against coronavirus

The Government is placing temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China to assist with the containment of the novel coronavirus and to protect New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from the disease.

This will take effect from tomorrow and will be in place for up to 14 days. This position will be reviewed every 48 hours.

Any foreign travellers who leave or transit through mainland China after 2 February 2020 (NZ time) will be refused entry to New Zealand.

Any foreign travellers in transit to New Zealand on 2 February 2020 will be subject to enhanced screening on arrival but, pending clearance, will be granted entry to New Zealand.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning to New Zealand will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members, but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival back in the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also raised its travel advice to New Zealanders for all of mainland China to “Do not travel”, the highest level.

This will have a major effect on tourism here.

Evacuation and 14 days isolation is being organised for New Zealanders who were in Wuhan when the virus outbreak happened – Health precautions finalised for Wuhan flight

An Air New Zealand charter flight is on track to evacuate dozens of New Zealanders, Pacific Islanders and Australian citizens in coming days. Final timing of the flight and passenger details are still to be confirmed, in consultation with Chinese authorities.

“A key part of the process is now complete, with health planning finalised for pre-flight checks, in-flight safety measures and isolating passengers for 14 days upon arrival in New Zealand.

“Chinese authorities are already conducting temperature checks for all passengers who are departing from Wuhan.

“In addition, New Zealand St John staff, which includes a Medical Director and two paramedics, and an Air New Zealand Doctor will conduct further health checks prior to boarding.

“These checks will ensure all passengers are fit to fly.

“Measures are also being taken to ensure the safety of all the staff on the flight. Infection control gear will be worn whenever they come into close contact with passengers.

“Health staff will monitor passengers (who will be provided with facemasks) and give them advice during the flight.

“The charter flight will land some distance from the main terminal in Auckland, and further health screening will be conducted.

“Standard border control measures, such as biosecurity checks will be completed as a matter of priority.

“It is expected that any Australian citizens and residents will be transferred on to a dedicated flight (with its own health measures in place) across the Tasman in coordination with the Australian government.

“Returning New Zealanders and Pacific Island citizens will be transported to a military facility at Whangaparaoa, where they will spend 14 days in isolation.

“During the isolation period the returnees will receive daily medical checks. Families will be kept together where possible, but will remain isolated from other returnees. “

In the US: Trump administration declares coronavirus emergency, orders first quarantine in 50 years

The Donald Trump administration declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a public health emergency in the United States on Friday, setting quarantines of Americans who have recently been to certain parts of China.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said it was the first quarantine order issued by the federal government in over 50 years. Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said the last time a quarantine was used was in the 1960s for smallpox.

“The risk of infection for Americans remains low,” said Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services and chairman of the coronavirus task force set up by Trump. “We are working to keep the risk low.”

Azar described the new entry rules and quarantines as “prudent, targeted, and temporary.” He said the United States is working to complement efforts by China and the World Health Organization to contain the deadly virus in China. Quarantines are imposed on people who may be exposed to an illness but are not yet sick, Cetron said.

An obvious problem is that no one knows how bad the coronavirus will get. It may end up being adequately controlled and contained, but that my mean measures to restrict it have been successful.

If it does grow to pandemic size the authorities are likely to be criticised for not doing enough. They are best to over-react (in retrospect).

And the spread of the virus is likely to be worse than known and reported.

The Spinoff: As NZ bans arrivals from China, has the coronavirus really infected 100,000?

A few days ago a paper appeared in the medical journal the Lancet estimating that between 37,304 and 130,330 people have been infected with the new coronavirus in Wuhan as of January 25. The authors aren’t the first to suggest that the numbers of reported cases don’t accurately reflect the number of infected people. A team at Imperial College London have published a series of similar reports.

Both teams have made their estimates using the number of cases being seen outside of China and the probability a case would appear based on the number of people leaving from Wuhan International Airport. Given this is a new outbreak with a virus not ever seen before, they had to make some guesstimates as to how infectious it is and the incubation period, hence the wide range.

As of writing this the number of confirmed cases in China is over 14,500 according to the Hopkins online outbreak-tracker. Which is a lot less than 100,000. So are the estimates right, and if so, why are the official numbers so low?

Firstly, the estimates are based on best guesses of things like how infectious the virus is. Secondly, testing to confirm cases takes time and it could be that the testing labs are working at capacity. What would be interesting is to see the number of suspected cases/tests that are pending, and how that number has been changing over time.

It’s very likely that the Chinese are focusing their attention on the people who need medical help. This means anyone with a mild form of the infection won’t be being tested. What wasn’t clear a week or so ago, was whether everyone who got the virus would come down with a very serious infection or whether there would be a spectrum ranging from no or mild infections to death. Now it looks like it might be a spectrum. And that would help explain some of the mismatch.

I have what I presume is a cold at the moment. I don’t know where I picked it up from, but it’s a reminder who easily illnesses can be spread.

Leave a comment

22 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  3rd February 2020

    ” but it’s a reminder who easily illnesses can be spread.”
    Your cold is a coronavirus but not the Wuhan strain.
    However these sorts of illnesses have a spread ability factor of 0.5 to 1.5, ie for each infection it spreads to that many others. During winter when they spread easier it would be up to 1.5, while NZ summer could be 0.5 or less.
    Measles spread ability is 15 so we have some scale of this.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd February 2020

      I wish that people would stop calling this The Coronavirus and realise that colds and other common illnesses are also coronaviruses..

      About 100 people a year die of flu in NZ, and you are quite right about the chances of this virus spreading in summer when people are outdoors being much slighter. But the hysterical don’t want to know this.

      I read many comments on the disgusting things that Chinese people eat…but as people in the West eat lambs’ brains and tongues, cows stomachs and tongues, kidneys (the body’s urine filters, ugh), pigs; feet, sausages made of blood and encased in guts, oysters that are not only raw but alive, frogs; legs, snails, tiny song birds that are eaten whole, bones, heads and all, I can’t see that people here can point the finger.

      I saw dark read meat with yellow fat in our Belgian supermarket; it was paard (horse) and sold for humans to eat. How is eating a horse more acceptable than eating a dog ?

      Reply
  2. Ray

     /  3rd February 2020

    Saw my Doctor this morning, Dr Shin , who told me while in the warehouse he saw people with masks, he faked a cough and people moved away from him.
    Spoiled when he was addressed by his title by someone who knew him🙂

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  3rd February 2020

      They had the same panic during SARS nearly 20 yrs ago. No one cares about the 10s of thousands world wide who die from flu
      in US it varies from 12,000 to 60,000 yr ( more infectious or higher death rate)
      My father died from a coronavirus , pneumonia, but he was 88 and it was ‘expected’
      Which reminds me I should get the pneumonia vaccine as thats one of the Wuhan CV ‘companion illnesses’

      Reply
      • Corky.

         /  3rd February 2020

        ”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”

        You are missing an important difference with this virus compared to others. Duker. Give it some thought.

        And, no. I’m not in a panic and wearing a face mask…yet. But I have ordered a fresh batch of colloidal silver.😃

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd February 2020

          They are reduced in summer for the obvious reason that people are not spending most of their time in enclosed spaces; QED.

          Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  3rd February 2020

      Saw an oriental fellow at the airport this morning. Holding a sign that read ‘I am not a virus’. Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  3rd February 2020

        Did you ask why China has banned our log exports, they don’t carry viruses .

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  3rd February 2020

          If correct, this is retaliatory. Akin to an elephant swatting a fly. Get used to it.

          But tell me more. Our local mill is closing due lack of logs

          Reply
    • Duker

       /  3rd February 2020

      “Do respiratory masks help?
      Not really. Viruses are not airborne, and the current coronavirus is transmitted as a droplet or smear infection. Therefore, it is better to keep a safe distance from those who are or may be infected.”
      Those UK bus drivers carrying the patients to the hospital had the right idea, they were told it was fairly safe.

      Once we had quarantine islands , eg Soames but someone said they werent needed

      Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  3rd February 2020

    Did you ask why China has banned our log exports, they don’t carry viruses .
    Has China banned our logs?
    Exporters are not sending further shipments and loggers have stopped harvesting.
    Not surprisingly Chinese processing mills are temporarily closed .

    Reply
  4. David

     /  3rd February 2020

    With a large amount invested in the hotel business I will be pleased to see the back of this panic, thankfully the Chinese are negligible to us but there will be some spillover to room rates no doubt. Pleased its peak season and will be over soon as these things generally are.

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  3rd February 2020

      Aussies and NZ lobster/crayfish exports stopped. No one out and about to buy.
      Hope speculation that it might be self limiting by March are correct.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  4th February 2020

        News media will find a new scare to highlight…..Aussie bushfires …Wuhan virus….unknown scare to come.

        Reply
  5. Corky

     /  4th February 2020

    China starting to get tough on its citizens.And make no mistake, America will have their citizens in concentration camps that are ready for such emergencies. They have plenty of plastic coffins on hand, too. Unlike New Zealand apparently. Of course, Americans are also armed, so if the government comes calling, you can defend yourself IF YOU THINK SUCH ACTION IS WARRANTED. As for the anti gun lobby, get the fug in line outside your local detention centre.

    I wonder if this virus is man made? I wonder if it has been released deliberately? All questions to ponder for those who cast their intellectual net wide.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  4th February 2020

      Population matters Corky

      This one is a beat up and will blow over but youmay well be correct. It won’t be a Nuclear Armageddon that gets us in the end but the state sponsored actor or rogue chemist who quietly releases an ethnic bioweapon. This technology is just around the corner

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  4th February 2020

        I can see a madman with a death ray ,hidden in a dormant volcano,complete with sliding roof…ready to hold govts to..ransom…frightening!

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  5th February 2020

          That man is Hank Scorpio. OK, Hank wants to take over the world…but he is also a successful businessman. Homer, being a typical lazy Lefty, is oblivious to what’s happening around him.

          Reply
  6. Boghos L. Artinian MD

     /  16th February 2020

    The closer the members of a species are to each other on Earth, the greater their population on the planet. One mechanism Nature uses to reduce their numbers would be to introduce a virus from a less densely living species which would be lethal to the population of the more densely living species.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  16th February 2020

      Doesn’t look as though the fatality rate is up to the task. May be more deaths from the economic impact of counter-measures than from the virus.

      Reply

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