Catastrophe looms as experts fear China waited too long to quarantine Coronavirus: “This time I’m scared”

Thursday, January 30, 2020
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Fears of a deadly global pandemic of the kind not seen since Medieval times are quickly rising as the Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in the central region of the country, spreads.

In fact, experts are already concerned that Chinese authorities — perhaps as a way to conceal the severity and scope of the virus in order to quell public anxieties and keep order — moved too slowly to quarantine the bug.

As reported by Agence France Presse, the virus has already managed to go global, reaching other parts of Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere. On Sunday, USA Today reported that five cases had turned up in the United States.

“I think we have passed the golden period of control and prevention,” said Guan Yi, an expert on viruses at Hong Kong University, AFP reported.

Chinese authorities did not start cutting off transport links out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, until Wednesday. Since then, several other cities have been added to the quarantine list; in all, some 56 million Chinese have been quarantined for the time being.

But the death toll from the virus continues to rise and since it’s already clear the virus has spread, many experts believe Beijing may have acted too late.

Guan noted that huge numbers of people left Wuhan just before the lockdown and could have been harboring the virus already as they headed out ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

In fact, as USA Today reported, medical experts note that the infection has been found to spread before the afflicted exhibit any symptoms.

Agence France Presse noted further:

Meanwhile, new gaps in the security web in Wuhan and its surroundings will likely emerge over coming days, even as China deploys its formidable security forces.

They are manning road blocks that have been set up, while train and plane services have been suspended.

‘Historically, quarantines have proven ineffective’

After noting the situation in Wuhan up close and personal, Guan said he was pessimistic that the disease could be contained.

“I’ve never felt scared,” Guan said. “This time I’m scared.”

Others noted the difficulty of containing Coronavirus.

“Especially people with money and connections, they’re going to make a run for it… and they’ll probably be successful,” Zi Yang, a senior analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told the news agency.

Prof. Adam Kamradt-Scott of the University of Sydney, a global health security expert, told AFP that just a “handful” of countries could even pull off a mass quarantine.

He said the United States was one of the few that could, using assets that are already in place such as state-level National Guard units. However, he said that U.S. officials would likely face a lot of pushback given that Americans are used to having many more civil liberties than are Chinese citizens.

The expert also noted that because of China’s hyper-efficient ‘security apparatus,’ “I can’t imagine there would be too many countries that would be able to do something on this scale as quickly.”

But then again, other experts say relying on quarantines of entire populations is foolhardy because it almost never works.

In fact, the concept is “purely an illusion,” Bruno Haloua, a medicine historian at the University of Paris IV.

“Quarantine has never worked. Each time, there have been problems,” he said.

Global health experts who are also familiar with China’s ‘habit’ of underreporting calamities in order to quell dissent and keep its people from panicking believe Beijing’s Communist leadership is already fudging the death and infection numbers.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the death of a 53-year-old fitness trainer, who checked into a hospital in Wuhan about a week earlier, was listed as “severe pneumonia” as its cause, not the Coronavirus.

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