A couple days have passed and there is plenty to share in a nutshell:
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global emergency after an increasing number of confirmed cases.
This means it allows them to better coordinate the international response and hold nations to account if they overstep the organization's standards - which may pertain to travel, trade, quarantine or screening.
WHO will send international experts to visit China as soon as possible to work with Chinese on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts.
• The WHO delegation highly appreciated the actions China has implemented in response to the outbreak, its speed in identifying the virus and openness to sharing information with WHO and other countries.
" The Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak, despite the severe social and economic impact those measures are having on the Chinese people. We would have seen many more cases outside China by now - and probably deaths - if it were not for the government's efforts, and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world." , WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus said.
Just a quick update on numbers and safety precautions (at time of writing):
• 9830 confirmed cases, 213 deceased and 218 cured in China.
• Many airlines (Air France, British Airways, Delta, KLM) have suspended or limited flights to China.
• 124 confirmed cases in 22 other countries. 10 cured cases (7 in Thailand, 1 in Japan and 2 in Australia)
• Russia has tightened its border with China and the U.S. announced plans for a second evacuation of Americans from Wuhan. Companies including Tesla Inc. and IKEA temporarily halted operations in China.
• Singapore has announced that it is closing its borders with China.
Dual effects of Internet
In comparison with SARS in 2003, the internet has helped immensely with keeping people informed and we almost get updates on the situation every 10 minutes, if not, even faster. The accessability to such info can bring peace of mind, and affirm whether the situation is in control or not.
However, the incredible internet is rife with misinformation and falsehoods, especially about health. A lot of myths around the virus are spreading like wildfire and again, it is very important to check out the media source before believing everyone you read/see.
Let's keep in mind that big news sells, so a virus outbreak is great example to take, which can be easily taken out of its proportion. The virus is a very serious matter but it needs to be put it in perspective also. Some news sources depict the situation like a zombie apocalypse and are downright irresponsible spreading panic among the worldwide web.
An unfortunate consequence of so much fear-based news, is discrimination against people with Asian appearance and a hostile attitude, which has been reported in several countries now.
As Dr. Ghebreyesus says: " This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma. "
This is something I think we should all remember, when it is all too easy to get caught up in the situation.
Today, the neighbourhood where I live (close to the center of Beijing) has increased safety measurements and temperature screenings are being conducted if you enter the gate. They have asked me if I had travelled to Hubei province or had any contact with friends/family who visited Wuhan in the past 14 days. Also, they have handed out tips on how to stay safe and which hospitals and help centers in Beijing have been designated for treatment of the virus, and where to go in case you feel sick and want a check up.
I am talking my family in Wenzhou and in the Netherlands on a daily basis to keep them up to date and check how they are doing. It is stressful sometimes, and a bit painful to be apart. Hope it will get better soon for everyone who has been affected.
Stay safe & keep calm.
More coming up soon.