The Coronavirus is related to the SARS virus of 2003 that sickened more than 8000 and killed more than 700 people. The origination point of this mysterious virus is believed to be in Wuhan China at a fish and meat market. I am about 1000 miles away from Wuhan, so I have considered myself safe from contracting the virus. Plus they are disinfecting the streets of Wuhan, safe right?!@?
Now nearly 500 people have been infected and the virus is spreading to other countries, including the USA. With the USA more than 7,000 miles away, I am beginning to reconsider myself safe from contracting the virus.
The Lunar Calendar and the phases of the moon dictate the time for the Chinese New Year Festival. Also dictating the start of the greatest human migration in the world, lasting up to 40 days and leading to an incredible amount of contact between travelers from different provinces in China and people from around the world.
During this time, billions of people travel by car, millions on the trains and hundreds of thousands by plane. Why?
Aside from travel, vacation and holiday for many, it is traditional for Chinese citizens to return to their hometown to celebrate with their families. Many return to their hometowns to see the child they have left behind to be raised by the child’s grandparents. They leave their hometown for a bigger city to earn an income for their family. The child can not attend public school in the new, bigger city so they must stay in their hometown. This is often the only time the parents get to see their child. So the migration begins as does the spread of the virus.
It is not easy for all Chinese citizens to get home. Flights are expensive, they don’t all have cars and train tickets are sold out. Sometimes “stand” tickets can be purchased, which means if you are lucky enough to land one of those, you will stand the entire train ride on an overcrowded, sold out train ride for up to 24 hours or longer.
For those who can not afford a mobile phone or laptop to get tickets online, or just can’t read, they must go and sleep outside at the train station with many others hoping to secure tickets on the train so they too, can go home to see their families. It is below freezing in Beijing in January at night time!
Until yesterday, I have felt pretty good about the limitations I have in place for myself considering I have cancelled all travel plans during this holiday season. We started receiving notifications from our school human resources officer stating what to do should we contract a fever. People with a fever can not just go to any hospital, there are special fever hospitals.
Receiving emails about a cancellation of a trip to Shanghai on February 8, which is more than two weeks away leaves me wondering about the severity of this virus becoming an epidemic of large proportions.
Masks are sold out in local stores and on TaoBao. School resumes on February 3 and hopefully everyone will be free of the virus and numerous other illnesses that have spread around school recently. In the meantime, I will watch for shortness of breath, fever and cough. Life sucks if you let it, so I will happily catch up with my Hulu and Netflix shows and read a good book or two.