At a forum in Geneva on Tuesday, World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhon Gherbaeus said the new coronavirus was “the most serious threat to other countries in the world,” though the most serious in China.
As the health effects of the epidemic increase, so does the political impact: within decades it is already one of the most important crises for the central government. China’s ruling Communist Party dismissed two health officials in Hubei, the epicenter of the epidemic, and replaced them with a leader sent from Beijing. They are the first senior officials who were punished for the outbreak of the government.
This week, Chinese authorities have called for factory workers and farmers to return to work. But at the same time, other officials warned that new outbreaks could occur in the coming weeks – most notably the three populous provinces, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Henan – after the Lunar New Year break, migrant workers returned to their jobs.
They also highlighted the role of clusters, which they defined as accelerating the spread of the disease in a relatively small region as two or more infections.
Wu Junieu, chief epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press conference on Tuesday that there are about a thousand clusters in China, of which 5 percent are family. But schools, factories, shopping centers and medical facilities also played a role, he said.
Officers in Tianjin, 600০০ miles away from Ohan, have taken stringent steps to contain a cluster of cases connected with department stores in the Baodi district. An outbreak of this city can be especially troubling for the central government: half an hour after the high-speed train from Beijing.
According to the local health authority, 33 of the 102 confirmed patients in the city worked or went to the department store, or had close contact with employees or customers. In the meantime, many, including the latest patient, announced a 31-year-old woman on Tuesday – no history of travel to Wuhan.