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Thread: During the busy Lunar New Year, an aggressive coronavirus is on the move

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default During the busy Lunar New Year, an aggressive coronavirus is on the move

    January 21, 2020

    During the busy Lunar New Year, an aggressive coronavirus is on the move

    By Andrea Widburg

    A growing viral threat in China reminds us that there’s a very thin line between civilization and disaster. Moreover, it tells us that our government should be focusing on disease preventing and not on whether boys should be using girls’ bathrooms. But first, a little history to put things in perspective.

    The world’s biggest die-off in recorded history – known as the Black Death, the Great Morality, the Pestilence, or the Great Plague – got its start thanks to a period of global cooling following the life-giving force of the Medieval Warming Period (950-1100 A.D.). During the warming period, land became more productive, and the population grew and expanded into formerly barren lands. (Greenland was once actually green.) When the climate began to cool, though, crops diminished, leading to starvation and weakened immune systems. War was normative.

    The plague started in China, as rodents fled areas that were drying out in the cooling world. In 1347, Genoese traders were in the port city of Kaffa on the Crimea (now in Ukraine), when the Mongol hordes, who were looking for greener pastures, laid siege to the city. The plague-ridden Mongol army engaged in biological warfare by catapulting corpses into the city. The Genoese traders who escaped carried the plague to Sicily, and from there it spread to the rest of Europe. Best guesses are that 75 to 200 million people died.
    Now that the stage is properly set, here’s the news from China today, and it’s way better than the news from China in the 14th Century:
    An outbreak of a never-before-seen coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan dramatically worsened over the last few days—the case count has more than tripled, cases have appeared in new cities, and authorities have confirmed that the virus is spreading person to person.
    The World Health Organization announced Monday that it will convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday, January 22, to assess the outbreak and how best to manage it
    On Saturday, January 18, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported 136 newly identified cases of the viral pneumonia and one additional death. On Tuesday, January 21 (local time 4:18am), the commission reported another death. That brings Wuhan’s totals to 198 cases and four deaths. Just one day earlier, on January 17, the health commission had reported just 62 cases and two deaths.
    So far, officials have found cases of the virus in travelers to Thailand, South Korea, and Japan.
    Besides Wuhan and Guangdong in mainland China, Chinese health officials have now reported cases in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. The total number of cases overall in China has climbed to 218, according to state-run media.
    Hong Kong has reported many suspected cases, but none have been confirmed to be linked to the outbreak. The region was hard hit by the 2003 SARS outbreak, which sickened over 8,000 people worldwide and killed 774.

    That’s the bad, scary news. Here’s the good news: As we’ve seen with other outbreaks of highly infectious disease, both First and Second World governments are good at exercising a core government power, namely protecting public health.

    It helps that we now understand how diseases spread. Even if we don’t know how to cure a disease, as was long the case with AIDS, we can change people’s behaviors to block transmission.

    In the U.S., the administration swung quickly into action, a necessity given that Lunar New Year travel is deluging airports with Asian travelers:

    Federal health officials said Friday they will begin screening airline passengers arriving at three U.S. airports for a new virus from central China that has sickened dozens of people with pneumonialike illnesses and killed two.

    Starting immediately, the screenings will be conducted at specially designated areas of three international airports — Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York’s John F. Kennedy. Those airports receive most of the travelers on direct and connecting flights from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a major transportation and business hub where a cluster of pneumonialike illnesses was first identified last month, officials said. Staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer questionnaires and check for fever and other symptoms.
    The announcement comes as millions of people in China are already traveling across the country and overseas for Lunar New Year, which officially starts Jan. 25. There are direct flights several times a week from Wuhan to San Francisco and JFK airports, including one scheduled to arrive Friday in New York at 10 p.m.

    The symptoms of the virus are fever, chest tightness, coughing, and difficulty breathing. It’s probably time to stock up on sanitizing hand gel to use after you’ve handled a shopping cart (they’re riddled with nasties), hand grips on public transportation, one-armed bandits in casinos, or anything else that a lot of people grab on to.
    ”The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” - Margaret Thatcher

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Fly-over country


    If it's super contagious and super aggressive, it will be all over the world in a few weeks.

    I hear that the Falkland Islands are lovely this time of year.

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