Update Wednesday, January 22: As of 7:30 p.m. Beijing time on January 22, 473 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in China, with the virus extending to Hong Kong and Macau. Patients in cases outside of mainland China had traveled to Wuhan in the past 60 days. While it is unknown how easily the virus can spread among humans, there is a concern that the large migration of people across the country due to the Spring Festival travel season could increase the speed at which the virus spreads. According to a press conference on Wednesday by Li Bin, a deputy head of China’s National Health Commission, nine people have died as a result of the virus. Wuhan has begun a ban on importing and livestock and wild animals and will ban social assemblies. Airports in the U.S. have begun screening of passengers traveling from Wuhan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Watch Level 2 Alert (Practice Enhanced Precautions) for an ongoing outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan. The results of a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting to determine a possible global pandemic response are unknown at this moment. The National Health Commission has encouraged the public to wear masks and cover one’s nose when coughing or sneezing. Many members of the public seem to have heeded this advice, with Beijing full of masked individuals and increased screening at railway stations. The virus has consistently topped netizen chatter on Weibo, with Chinese media consistently sending out updates as the number of infected persons rises.
Travelers are urged to avoid non-urgent travel to the Wuhan area and exercise personal hygiene precautions such as frequent hand washing, minimizing contact with birds and wild animals, covering one’s nose when coughing or sneezing, spending less time in public places and ensuring a healthy immune system with adequate hydration and sleep. Travelers with recent connections to those in the Wuhan area and experience symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical attention.
We will continue to monitor Chinese and Western media, the CDC, WHO, and U.S. and UK Embassies for the latest updates. Many of our CET students will be traveling over the holiday break; we will monitor the locations to which this virus spreads and will provide additional recommendations if necessary.