Are there police in Chinese ghost towns?
Corona virus in China : When an 11 million metropolis becomes a ghost town
Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, is under increasing pressure. On Tuesday he was literally grilled during an interview with the state television broadcaster CCTV: Whether the city had reacted too slowly to the spread of the virus. Did he know that the hospital staff had been infected and why some public New Year celebrations were allowed to take place?
The city held potluck banquets on Saturday to get in the mood for the upcoming holidays. According to media estimates, more than 40,000 families took part. News and photos from the event appeared on the front page of the state newspaper in Wuhan on Sunday but were censored and deleted on Tuesday following criticism of the lack of crisis management.
In China, the rampant disease only became an issue about a week ago. Since then, the Chinese public has been sensitized. When more and more epidemiologists demanded quarantine as the only way to contain the spread of the virus, Beijing responded and decided to lock down Wuhan.
The 11 million metropolis in central China currently resembles a ghost town. Urban bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger services have been suspended since Thursday 10 a.m. local time. Citizens are not allowed to leave the city without a “special reason” and the airport and train station are temporarily closed.
"Where were all the experts before?"
During the New Year celebrations, millions of Chinese people usually share pictures of vacations, cafes or banquets on social media. This year it is mainly reports about the corona virus. Protective masks are offered, advice on how to best behave at the moment is shared. And there is also open criticism: “Why is late better than never?” Or: “Where were all the experts before?” Asks a 55-year-old woman from Beijing, who ventures her concerns. She also posts statistics in her “Moments” on WeChat: This shows where most of the flights went in the three weeks since the disease broke out in Wuhan. Beijing tops the list as a risk assessment.
The three main hospitals in Wuhan are obviously hopelessly overwhelmed and can no longer accept new patients. You only have 800 beds available - in a city of eleven million people. Chen Zhenxin, deputy mayor of Wuhan, told a press conference that there are plans to vacate 3,400 beds in seven other hospitals to treat the fever patients.
Combating the outbreak has reached "critical stage"
Current reports from private individuals in Wuhan paint a different picture. The lines in front of the hospitals are long, even if it is not clear whether patients will be admitted at all. Li Bin, director of the state's highest health agency, announced on Wednesday that prevention and control of the outbreak had reached a "critical stage" and that there was a risk that the virus could mutate and spread further during the New Year celebrations.
Where the virus originally came from, however, is relatively clear. A photo from Wuhan has been circulating on social media for a few days now, which at first glance looks like an advertisement for the local zoo because there are so many animal species on it: eagles, porcupines, foxes, snakes, wolf pups and larvae rollers. The latter belongs to the crawling cats, the group of animals that is considered to be the origin of the Sars virus in 2002/03. The numbers in the photo make it clear that this is a price list for exotic animals that have been sold on the “fresh market” in the Chinese city of Wuhan. For consumption. The market has now been closed because the new type of corona virus originated there. Chinese researchers have found that it was transmitted from snakes to humans. A US researcher also sees similarities in the pathogen to viruses that occur in bats. These are also eaten in China. Apparently the Chinese are paying a high price these days for the culinary preferences of some compatriots.
Another major problem in containing the virus crisis is Wuhan's geographic location. The city is the hub for several major high-speed train routes that connect it to major cities in China. Beijing can be reached by train in four hours, Hong Kong in four and a half hours and Shanghai in around six hours. Around 700,000 people typically use these trains during the high season around the New Year break, which begins this week.
However, too little is known how far the disease has spread in the meantime. That is why the news portal “Sanlian Life Weekly” calls on its readers and “media colleagues” to report what is happening around them. You don't want to leave the issue to the specialists and the government alone.
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