China is essentially quarantining Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people, in response to up to 4,000 people that have been exposed to a mutating Coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people.
“To combat the spread of the virus, which first appeared at the end of December and has killed at least 17 people and sickened more than 500, the Chinese government said it would cancel planes and trains leaving Wuhan beginning Thursday, and suspend buses, subways and ferries within it,” The New York Times reported. “In Beijing, at least 4,000 residents who had been exposed to the virus were kept in isolation, and 300 college students who had had contact with infected people were sequestered in a military camp for two weeks.”
Experts told The New York Times that a shut down of this scale was unprecedented in human history.
Several cases have been reported outside of China in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
“Chinese health officials said they had ascertained that the virus started in an unsanitary food market that was selling wild and exotic animals for consumption,” The Washington Post reported. “Snakes were the most likely cause of the virus, five Chinese scientists concluded in a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology.”
Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, said, “In past outbreaks, we haven’t seen evidence that large-scale quarantine diminishes spread of disease. It runs the risk of people losing confidence in government. And it places enormous responsibilities on government to make sure that people can continue to get food, basic necessities, medicines.”
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