Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course
Yesterday we reported on everything we knew about the Wuhan Coronavirus, an outbreak in China that has reached Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Vietnam, the US, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand with confirmed cases.
This morning, we woke up to the news that China has quarantined three major cities with a combined population of more than 20 million people. That seems rather excessive (not to mention expensive and panic-inducing) for a virus with a proclaimed 2% death rate. The Guardian reports:
Authorities banned transport links from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, on Thursday, as well as the nearby central Chinese cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, suspending buses, subways, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.
Meanwhile the state-run Beijing News said the capital had cancelled events including two well-known lunar new year temple fairs. Separately, the country’s railway operator, China State Railway Group, said passengers would be able to receive full refunds on tickets nationwide starting on Friday. (source)
Chinese authorities still report only 633 cases, 95 patients in critical condition, and 17 deaths from the virus.
Panic rises across China
The move to quarantine Wuhan, Huanggang, and Ezhou has caused panic as residents of the cities rush to purchase food and other goods before supplies run out.
In Wuhan, supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.
“When I saw the news when I woke up, I felt like I was going to go crazy. This is a little too late now. The government’s measures are not enough,” said Xiao, 26, a primary schoolteacher in Wuhan, who asked not to give her full name.
Few pedestrians were out and families cancelled plans to get together for the new year holiday. Special police forces were seen patrolling railway stations. Residents and all government workers are now required to wear face masks while in public spaces. Most outbound flights from the city’s Tianhe airport were cancelled. (source)
Due to the nobody-in-nobody-out nature of the quarantine, it is unknown whether supplies will be replenished.
This certainly shows how quickly things can change. Within a span of 24 hours, the people in these regions went from a warning about a virus to a near-SHTF scenario. Those who weren’t already prepped have little chance of getting well-stocked now.
People fled to try and escape the quarantine.
The Washington Post reports that censorship of information has been evident.
In a post that was online for less than an hour, the Wuhan Health Commission admitted Thursday that it was struggling under the strain of the outbreak.
“At present, there is an obvious increase in the number of patients with fever in the city, and it is true that there are long queues and a shortage of beds in fever clinics,” the commission said.
A post from Wuhan Railway saying that 300,000 people traveled by train out of Wuhan on Wednesday, headed to every corner of the country, was also quickly deleted. (source)
According to the same report, the quarantine may not have been instituted quickly enough to stop the spread of the virus. Many people fled the cities, while others remain trapped and angry.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan pulsated with fear and anger Thursday, as 11 million people awoke to news that they were being confined to a metropolis-sized quarantine zone designed to contain a widening coronavirus outbreak.
Many people flocked to the roads to try to avoid getting caught in the quarantine. Television footage showed health workers in hazmat suits taking motorists’ temperatures as they waited at toll booths.
Others did not make it out. Hubei’s highway management authority closed multiple expressways in and around Wuhan, and Wuhan traffic police confirmed that while vehicles were allowed to come into the city, they were prohibited from going out except in special cases.
Neighboring Huanggang said it would join Wuhan’s quarantine from midnight on Thursday, shutting down transport networks and telling people they should not leave the city without special reason. Nearby Ezhou announced it would close its railway stations “to efficiently cut off channels for spreading the virus.”…In Wuhan, a city with about 3 million more people than New York, many residents were incensed at the sudden announcement of the travel restrictions on Thursday.
“I didn’t even receive a notice,” said one woman who found herself stranded at Hankou Station. She had been on her way from Henan province southwest to Sichuan and was changing trains in Wuhan when she got caught up in the suspension.
She said indignantly that she would go back to Henan. But when a reporter asked how, she conceded that she did not know.
Others interpreted the fact that the health authorities announced the travel ban at 2:30 a.m. as a sign that the outbreak was more serious than they were letting on.
“The notice shouldn’t come out so late, when everyone’s asleep,” said Jeffrey Yang, a 27-year-old Wuhan local working in the financial industry. “It makes people panic and feel like they’ve missed the opportunity to change their fate.”
…Some people resorted to extreme measures to escape the travel ban. One man who could not get a taxi to the station to catch an earlier train persuaded a food delivery driver to give him a lift on his scooter. The desperate traveler paid $72 to have the delivery man, who would usually make less than half that in a day, drop him at the station. “We were flying,” he said. (source)
Imagine being a traveler and suddenly being stranded in a city that is quarantined due to a mysterious virus.
Precautions in the US
Travelers from the Wuhan region are being routed for extra screening to Wuhan are being routed to five airports for screening: Chicago’s O’Hare, JFK, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The following steps are being taken by the CDC.
- CDC established a 2019-nCoV Incident Management Structure on January 7, 2020. On January 21, 2020, CDC activated its Emergency Response System to better provide ongoing support to the 2019-nCoV response.
- On January 21, 2020, CDC again updated its interim travel health notice for this destination to provide information to people who may be traveling to Wuhan City and who may get sick. The travel notice was raised from Level 1; Practice Usual Precautions, to a Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions advising travelers that preliminary information suggests that older adults with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.
- CDC began entry screening of passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan, China to the three main ports of entry in the United States on January 17, 2020. Entry screening will be expanded to airports in Atlanta and Chicago in the coming days.
- CDC issued an updated interim Health Alert Notice (HAN) Advisory to inform state and local health departments and health care providers about this outbreak on January 17, 2020.
- A CDC team has been deployed to support the ongoing investigation in the state of Washington in response to the first reported case of 2019-nCoV in the United States, including potentially tracing close contacts to determine if anyone else has become ill.
- CDC has developed a real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose 2019-nCoV. Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC, but in the coming days and weeks, CDC will share these tests with domestic and international partners through the agency’s International Reagent Resource. (source)
Preparing for quarantine
Those who wish to be prepared should note the speed at which quarantines were put in place in China. Don’t delay placing orders for supplies, fueling up your vehicle, and adding last-minute preps to your stockpile. You may already have many of the supplies you need, so be sure to do an inventory before panic-buying.
However, if you discover you do need supplies, get them now. If you wait until a quarantine is announced, you’ve waited too long and you’ll be out there fighting for resources with everyone else in your area.
- Read this article for more information about pandemic preparedness. Order any personal protection supplies you need.
- Order this book. It’s truly the best of its kind – Cat Ellis is a best-selling author and her book on this particular virus and how to prepare for it will not disappoint.
- Read this article about Ebola to understand how pandemics spread.
- Stock up on food. Here’s how to purchase it from the grocery store and here are the emergency buckets we recommend.
- Store water and water purification supplies.
Whatever your plan is, don’t delay taking action. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the same situation as 20 million Chinese people who were suddenly quarantined.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.