It now appears this epidemic started in a Wuhan fishmarket. It left ground zero about two weeks ago and is already popping up all over the place. This isn’t like Maoist China where travel of any sort was nearly impossible. Today, the Chinese are extremely mobile and enjoy moving about but this means the traditional diseases are moving very rapidly, too. As I feared, this all is happening too fast to stop.
Time to visit Wuhan:
Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan is one of the iconic sites in this Chinese province. The map above shows the region is very wet and the Google pictures often show heavy clouds. What I find interesting in old Chinese architecture is how it is rather menacing as well as grandiose. Here is a typical Japanese temple that is less menacing:
Japan has a much more sheltered history, the mainland Chinese have been invaded repeatedly and hammered hard. Thus, I suspect, the more intimidating styles of buildings. Back to the pestilent disease: China is home base and has been taking this very seriously. They do really try to stop these epidemics but it is often hopeless. The country is simply too big, the landscape too friendly for diseases. For the last 5,000 years, this has been a constant throb of diseases moving out of China and across to Europe and then, the entire earth.
It is now even reaching Australia via jet passengers. From what I can see, the victims are nearly all under 50 years of age, that is, post-Hong Kong flu age. This is very odd but quite easy to see in action. The other big issue here is how nearly all of these occur first in China or the borders of China along the Mongol frontier.
The Daily Mail is reporting that this virus could have escaped from a lab but I doubt this. It is not an old virus, it is a novel, new type:
Like the Hong Kong flu which flew in on a jet into San Francisco, this epidemic is coming to the West Coast and one sick person traveled from Tacoma, Washington to the border of Canada, not far from where Prince Harry and his wife moved to get away from the royals. I will also note that the sick man was under the age of 50. This is like previous major epidemics.
At this point in time, it is now spread pretty far and wide. Stopping it is now impossible.
And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.
Peking University researchers analysed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.
Snakes or bats, both are eaten by the Chinese who seem to eat everything.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing yesterday, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than 1 in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
A 2 percent death rate is a lot of people when we are talking about billions of people. This virus causes pneumonia but then…this is why the Hong Kong flu was so deadly! I remember vividly the pneumonia I had from it, my upper left lung was badly damaged, for example. I told people my breathing was like a broken bellows. I wheezed. I coughed up phlegm for weeks and weeks, had to keep a container near my hospital bed for this. Yuck. I used to be able to sing quite well but after the Hong Kong flu, I could never sing soprano opera again. This really upset me badly.
It was a horrible change, all sorts of bad side effects. My heart goes out to the victims of this new epidemic. I pray they survive, too and I feel their pain from afar.