70 passengers refuse to board a plane with Wuhan residents, causing a 5-hour standoff

Around 70 passengers booked on a China Southern Airlines flight from Nagoya, Japan to Shanghai refused to get on the plane when they found out 16 passengers from Wuhan, China were getting on the same plane. Worried that the Wuhan passengers could be infected with the new coronavirus – which has now killed 106 people and infected more than 4,500 people (but those numbers will will certainly climb within the next 24 hours, as they've been doing since the epidemic started last month) – the fearful passengers became angry and hostile. It took five hours for the airline to convince them to board the plane.

According to IBT:

Reportedly, 70 passengers who live in Shanghai tried to prevent the 16 passengers from Wuhan to board the flight. After a five hour delay, the airline was able to finally convince the protesting passengers. The travellers from Wuhan were finally able to board the flight and fly to Shanghai.

The Chinese government put the city of Wuhan under quarantine before the Chinese New Year. However, many residents of Wuhan remain locked out of the city. The passengers who were being disallowed from boarding the flight were heading to China even though they would not be able to enter Wuhan in the coming days.

Since the coronavirus spreads even before an infected patient starts showing symptoms, there is mass panic in the country. The passengers from Wuhan might have left the city before lockdown and they might be infected by the virus. Based on this fear, the Shanghai residents turned on their fellow passengers.

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Wuhan coronavirus outbreak rises to 440 in China, with 9 dead

Chinese health authorities said early Wednesday that the number of cases of a new virus has risen to 440 in China. The officially stated death toll from the so-called Wuhan coronavirus now stands at 9. Read the rest

Coronavirus from China has made its way to the US

The new Coronavirus that is spreading in China, which has infected around 300 people and has killed at least six, has just shown up in the US (as well as Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea). A man who had traveled from Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared, came down with pneumonia last week and has just been tested positive for the virus, which is in the SARS family (SARS was the virus in 2003 that killed around 800 people).

From The New York Times:

The man is a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., who experienced symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. He was hospitalized with pneumonia last week, and infection with the coronavirus was confirmed on Monday afternoon.

The outbreak, which began in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is spreading: Patients have been identified in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

Major airports in the US started screening for the virus on Friday, and the World Health Organization will decide tomorrow "whether to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency," according to NYT.


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There is finally an approved vaccine for Ebola

The European Medicines Agency approved a vaccine for the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. The vaccine has already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saving countless lives during an ongoing epidemic there. From Nature:

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to allow US pharmaceutical company Merck to market its vaccine means that the product can now be stockpiled and, potentially, distributed more widely, in particular in Africa. In 2015, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — a global health partnership that funds vaccine supplies in low-income countries — told Ebola-vaccine manufacturers that it would commit to purchasing vaccines once they had been approved by a “stringent health authority” such as the EMA...

“This is a vaccine with huge potential,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi in Geneva, Switzerland, in a press release after the EMA decision. “It has already been used to protect more than 250,000 people in the DRC and could well make major Ebola outbreaks a thing of the past.”

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Latest Ebola outbreak has come to an end

After three months and 33 deaths, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been declared by the World Health Organization to have come to an end. The loss of 33 lives to the disease is absolutely tragic, but comes close to a miracle when you stop to consider the fact that the last time Ebola broke in West Africa, more than 11,000 people died. The high number of deaths in that instance was due to the fact that The WHO (not the one with Roger Daltrey,) was slow to react to the epidemic last time around, moving slowly to deploy medical resources to the regions that needed it the most. Additionally, no vaccine designed to fight the Ebola virus was put into play until near the end of the outbreak.

That wasn’t the case this time.

After being tongue lashed for dragging their ass during the last outbreak, The WHO sent specialists to Congo as soon as a handful of cases of Ebola were confirmed, back in May.

From the New York Times:

Even though Congo is familiar with Ebola — this was the country’s ninth outbreak since the disease first appeared in 1976 — more than 350 support personnel were deployed there. They included vaccinators from Guinea, where a novel Ebola vaccine was first field-tested.

The Congo outbreak marked the first in which an Ebola vaccine was readily available. In addition to giving injections to all front-line health care workers, experts used “ring vaccination” to protect all contacts of each person with the disease.

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