Crossing cultures

Novel Corona virus outbreak in China





My blog was originally initiated to create more understanding of the Chinese/Dutch culture, share personal experiences of Third Culture Kids and expand cross-cultural perspectives in a light-hearted way.

After all, have had multiple business trips (Netherlands, Germany and South Korea), had months of conducting some field research and speaking to many people about this topic left me with plenty of inspiration to write, and I had a great idea to kick it off during Chinese Spring Festival holiday while accompanying my grandmother and other relatives back in my parent's hometown near Wenzhou (East China).

Unfortunately, this trip has been cancelled due to the current novel corona virus outbreak in China, and my first post will rather be focussing on something far more serious and since there is so much one-sided international news feeds (it does not do justice at all of overall reality), I feel a responsibility to share info and my take as someone who is experiencing this at a bit of a closer level. 

Let's start with some basic information first: 

What is Novel Corona virus? 

Novel Corona (2019-nCoV) is a virus of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.


Dry cough, nasal congestion, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing.


Below tips are given to stay safe and clean.

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
4. Stay home when you are sick.
5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with the virus and investigations are ongoing. Experts are discussing vaccines at the moment. 

It is strongly advised to stay inside as much as possible for your own and other people's safety.

Official State updates are given almost every half an hour and even faster on the internet, WeChat, Weibo and other social media. 

Current statistics report 2840 confirmed cases, 5794 presumptive cases, death toll of 81 and 58 cured cases (at time of writing this). While most of cases included people of eldery age, the past two days added more unrest with the youngest cases being an 9 month infant and 4 year old child.

Safety & Care Measurements

•  Lockdown of Wuhan, and other cities in Hubei province. 

• Beijing and Tianjin have suspended long distance bus services to and from the cities in a bid to slow the outbreak of the virus.

• The State Council, China’s cabinet, has decided to extend the Lunar New Year public holiday to Feb. 2, three days longer than initially planned.
It also instructed kindergartens, schools and universities to postpone reopening.

•  Wuhan building new hospitals to accomodate patients.

• Multiple cities, including Suzhou and Huaian in the Eastern province of Jiangsu, have ordered companies and factories not resume work before Feb. 9.

• Temperature screenings at subway stations and other public places.

• Transport and quarantine regulations are updated by the hour.

• Blanket ban on the wildlife trade as it is believed the source of the virus comes from animals such as bats, civet cats etc. 

• Flights carrying medical supplies and professionals from outside Wuhan reached the city around midnight, including 150 physicians from the military. Earlier, medical professionals from Guangdong, Shanghai and other regions arrived to assist Wuhan’s pandemic control efforts.

• A total of 20 Chinese provincial-level governments, including Beijing, Shanghai and the southern province of Guangdong, have enacted “Level I” emergency responses, the country’s highest level of public health emergency response to the virus. This means the Chinese State Council, or its relevant departments are now in charge of related medical responses, including scientific research, management of emergency supplies and equipment, as well as international exchange and cooperation.

Having these recent facts lined out now, there is the social impact to all of this as well - People are terrified and the streets are mostly empty. Most of them have already bought plenty of food and care supplies for the upcoming days and have taken other preventive measures. The people outside are delivery guys and people walking with their dog.

Due to the immense demand, there is a shortage of masks, hand sanitizer and other disinfectant products available at the moment, and buying them online even might take a while as well as only few transport companies are fully operating due to holidays. (Usually, it is less than a couple of days) People are trying to get these products from abroad now as well. 

Luckily, I managed to get some masks today in a supermarket and am prepared as far as possible. 

This virus hit China really hard and it is showing how the government and the whole society is responding to such a public health emergency at such a large scale and spread not only to China but the rest of the world. So far, I think the Chinese government is acting fast and accordingly. Especially, if you consider the time-pressured operation managing containment, treatment and panic avoidance. 

Social media news goes faster than fire these days and it has become the main source for many people to get informed. Also, it is too easy to stumble upon so much false news which main intent is just to fuel fear and anxiety even more, instead of being objective, so please check multiple sources. 

I will keep posting on further developments.

Greetings from Beijing.