Why is launching an unprecedented quarantine in China a bad idea?


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The outbreak of the corona virus in China has led to an unprecedented quarantine in the history of our species. During the last major epidemics, all those infected were quarantined in hospitals or at home. Not surprisingly, the Chinese government's decision to stop the spread of 2019-nCoV through the quarantine of major cities in Hubei province is worrying many epidemiologists. The fact is that such a solution can cause much more problems than the onset of an infectious disease, and may worsen the already difficult situation in the Middle Kingdom.

Coronavirus patient transport in China

What has the isolation of millions of people led to?

Some health experts, including Lawrence Gostin, argue in an interview with Changing America that massive quarantines can actually worsen a crisis.

Theoretically, isolating a virus outbreak can be achieved by preventing people from moving from the epicenter of the outbreak to other regions. However, the introduction of quarantine in China could turn out to be too large – it is estimated that at least 56 million people attend the events – and this too early. The fact is that in late January, China traditionally celebrates the New Year according to the lunar calendar. At that time, millions of Middle Kingdom citizens were traveling across the country and traveling beyond its borders. Shortly before the closure of Wuhan, at least 5 million people left the city.

Other researchers are also concerned about the Chinese authorities' ability to control the movement of millions of people in closed cities. These people are probably afraid and are undoubtedly desperate to protect themselves and their families. According to The Conversations, doctors in Wuhan medical facilities are in a "state of war" and public transport has been completely stopped in several cities in China.

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The streets of Chinese cities look like this today

Critics of the mass quarantine also believe that the argument for closing cities is based on the dangerous assumption that the risk of infection is identical to the risk of someone else simply because they live in the same region. In reality, however, there are risk groups, especially at the beginning of an outbreak, and close monitoring of the health status of these people is required. Similar measures must be taken before considering other radical strategies. In addition, the large-scale introduction of such quarantine violates the rights of healthy Chinese citizens.

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Many researchers believe that measures to track vulnerable contacts, educate the public, use drugs and protective equipment, and provide access to continuous and effective patient communication with medical services and hospitals will be more effective than mass quarantines. In reality, Chinese hospitals were crowded with people – long lines in the hospital corridors and a massive crowd during the epidemic only contribute to the spread of the infection. The first week of quarantine led to massive panic, lack of food and medication.

Corona virus conquers the world?

Coronavirus cases have now been reported in 24 countries, including Russia, although action has been taken. According to Interfax, the Ministry of Health has included the coronavirus in the list of the most dangerous diseases, while closing the border in the Far East and restricting air and rail links with China. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) switched to emergency measures. All passengers arriving from infected areas at international airports are thoroughly checked and receive support and information for travelers traveling to Asia.

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Mass congestion contributes to the spread of infections

According to a study published in The Lancet magazine, over 75,000 people in Wuhan were infected with the coronavirus – ten times the officially confirmed cases. As the researchers write in their work, on January 25, 2020, 75,815 people in Wuhan were infected. At the same time, on January 31, the Chinese government reported that the number of confirmed illnesses nationwide exceeded 9700, including 213 deaths.

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The apparent discrepancy between the simulated estimates by scientists and the actual number of confirmed cases in Wuhan can be due to a number of factors. This includes a long incubation period and the time required to confirm the diagnosis with laboratory tests. The results obtained by the researchers also indicate that each 2019 nCoV person infected could infect two to three people on average. This means that the number of infected people doubles every 6.4 days. Scientists also fear that large cities abroad with close transport links to China could become the epicenter of the outbreak.

Corona virus personally

The good news is that the mortality rate of the new coronavirus is currently not comparable to the mortality rate of SARS – a severe respiratory syndrome that broke out in 2003. In order not to get sick, epidemiologists recommend adhering to a number of simple but effective rules: wash your hands thoroughly, especially after visiting the public, avoid crowded places, sneeze and cough in a handkerchief. Health!

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