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‘Fears of SARS’ rise in China ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

‘Fears of SARS’ rise in China ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

Posted January. 21, 2020 07:27,   

Updated January. 21, 2020 07:27


The sharp rise of “Wuhan pneumonia” due to a new coronavirus in China has prompted concerns over the Chinese government’s ability to contain infectious disease outbreak. Some Chinese Internet users are accusing the government of a cover-up and late response while others worry if the virus could become as fatal as SARS, which killed 648 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003 after Beijing failed to contain the spread.

“Wuhan pneumonia” are spreading rapidly and widely. In Wuhan, Hubei province, where the virus was first detected, confirmed cases tripled over the weekend by 136. In addition, it appears that the virus is spreading across the country. Two and one cases were confirmed in Daxing and Shenzhen, respectively, while eight suspected cases were found in Shenzhen and five in Zhejiang. It contradicts the Chinese authorities’ claim that the virus is not highly contagious and not likely to be transmitted through human to human contact.

The Chinese government had dealt with the outbreak at the municipal level, but China’s National Health Commission announced prevention measures and sent working groups to provinces across the country on Sunday. The authorities said it had not identified the source of the outbreak as well as the exact transmission pathways. A source from the Korean government said, “The Chinese authorities applied a new method, which has driven up confirmed cases in Wuhan.” The possibility of this turning into a major outbreak cannot be ruled out given that about 3 billion people are expected to travel over the Lunar New Year holiday.

Concerns are rising among Chinese Internet users as well. “The government said it is unlikely to be highly infectious. Was it another cover-up?”, said a person. Another person left a sarcastic comment saying, “The virus is no longer patriotic.”

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com