The article below was last updated on February 25, 2020.
Updates on the Coronavirus from Schools in China
We have been speaking with schools all over China recently and getting updates on the situation in various cities. Schools in many parts of China, even areas with no or very few cases, will remain closed until sometime between February 17 and March 5, 2020, to help limit the spread of the virus. A number of schools we have been speaking to have started teaching online instead of in the classroom for a couple of weeks.
China has started the production of a possible cure for coronavirus.
The drug has already been approved by the China Food Supervision Authority. It is called Favipiravir, although the name Avigan is mentioned in some sources. The medication may play an important role in the treatment and prevention of the disease.
Please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports from the World Health Organization.
Here are some comments from a selection of schools across China:
“The Beijing government has postponed schools, universities, and other educational institutions from opening indefinitely. As such, we have gone on break and are asking our teachers to ‘self-quarantine.’ Many people in China are doing the same thing with the idea that by avoiding wandering around the city for at least 14 days, you’ll be waiting out the virus’s incubation period and break the chain of transmission.
Two excellent sources of information about this are the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention. Please take a bit of time to look through these as they are both pretty comprehensive sources of information. One more very frequently updated source is this article from a local website called the Beijinger. They have done an outstanding job of taking statistics from Chinese language sources and making them available for those who can’t read Chinese.”
“Our school would also like to advise new teachers to try not to panic at this stage. There has been lots of misinformation spread so far about the Coronavirus (see link) and it is important to note that within Sichuan Province there are just 451 cases out of a population of 81 million people. Those who have been worst affected have been the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
In regards to your Visa, our school’s advice is to continue to prepare your Visa application. Those of you who have already received Work Permit Notices should apply for the ‘Z’ Work Visa. When the ‘Z’ Work Visa is approved, you have up to three months to enter China from the date of issue, so as soon as Government advice changes for the better you can enter China.”
Schools are also taking steps to ensure the entire school and classrooms are kept disinfected to ensure the prevention of the spread of any viruses:
What is Wuhan coronavirus?
The Wuhan coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has mainly affected the city of Wuhan, in central China, with 80% of all cases occurring in Wuhan and the surrounding cities of Hubei province.
The virus causes flu symptoms, and those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. Wuhan and some surrounding cities have been quarantined with people being told to stay at home, in an effort to prevent it being spread.
Outside of Wuhan, the numbers are very small relative to the millions of people living in each Chinese city, with between 18 and 1219 cases in each Chinese province. Here is a map of cases compiled by Johns Hopkins with data from the World Health Organisation and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been 2700 deaths, 2565 of which have been in the Wuhan region (Hubei province) and the majority have been elderly people, with pre-existing health problems and a weak immune system.
The number of infected is reported to be 80147, those who recovered from the disease – 27670.
(source – https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/special-focus/covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak-latest-information-news-and-updates/)
People under 60 who are healthy are like to have less severe symptoms and to make a full recovery.
Of all reported cases, according to the WHO:
81% reported as ‘mild’ (cough, fever)
15% reported as ‘severe’
3%reported as ‘critical’
The recovery rate has been rising, nearly 6,000 people now, and as the virus runs its course, the recovery rate is expected to continue rising over the coming weeks.
In cities in China, people are taking precautions to limit the spread by:
– wearing masks in crowded places
– washing hands regularly
– avoiding touching face before washing hands
– avoiding close contact with anyone that has flu-like symptoms
The media have been making things seem a lot scarier than the situation is.
To put things in perspective, these are the figures for regular flu:
“Influenza has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter, hospitalizing 120,000 and killing 6,600, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And flu season hasn’t even peaked. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 61,000 Americans.
Worldwide, the flu causes up to 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide and kills up to 650,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization.”
WHO Travel Advice
When in airports and planes to China it is advised to wear a face mask and keep your hands sanitized to be on the safe side.
The World Health Organization has “advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event.” (source).
Some airlines have temporarily limited or canceled flights to cities in China.
We will keep updated with the airline policies over the coming days and weeks.
It is still possible to fly to an Asian country near China, such as Hong Kong, Singapore or South Korea and then to fly on to China.
Treatment & Cures
Hong Kong researchers have already developed a vaccine for the coronavirus but will need time for testing.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna and the University of Queensland are working on a vaccine.
Bloomberg has also reported here that Thailand has had good results treating a Chinese man with two antiviral drugs. “The patient’s condition significantly improved within 48 hours after the medical team decided to use antiviral drugs originally used for HIV and influenza in his treatment”.
China has also been using HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir to treat the virus successfully:
“Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital in Beijing who was infected by the virus after visiting Wuhan to inspect to coronavirus patients, told China News Week earlier this week that his doctor recommended he take the HIV drugs to fight the new virus and they worked on him.” (source)
Q&A by China’s National Immigration Administration concerning immigration/exit and entry during this period that we think might be helpful:
Are foreigners allowed entry or exit as usual during the period of epidemic prevention and control of the Wuhan novel coronavirus? Will the virus outbreak affect my work permit processing?
The Chinese government has taken a series of active measures since the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.
Currently, all ports of entry and exit (with the exception of the lockdown of the exit and entry channels in Wuhan) are operating but with strict control – reduced cross border movements, reduced flights, and temperature screenings at all airports.
Foreigners can enter or exit as usual with valid travel documents. Due to the virus outbreak, the government pushed the end of the Chinese New Year holiday from January 30 to February 09.
However, the labor bureau and PSB, government authorities in charge of work permit processing, and issuance of residence permits respectively will be operating from February 03, 2020.
How do foreigners apply for visas or residence permits during this period?
All exit-entry administration (EEA) authorities in China will be in full service for extension and issuance of visa and residence permits to ensure foreigners’ legitimate stay in China.
Urgent services for emergencies will also be provided. EEA authorities will make arrangements for services on appointments to avoid risks involved with crowd gatherings during this period.
Institutions that host high numbers of foreigners, such as universities, scientific research institutes, and business enterprises, will also be allowed additional agent services or provide other necessary conveniences depending on the situation.
What can foreigners do to cooperate during the epidemic prevention and control?
EEA advises that all foreign ex-pats in China enhance self-protection, avoid crowded public places, and actively cooperate with local communities and inviting entities by taking part in precautionary measures.
National Immigration Authorities at all levels are working closely with relevant departments to provide consultancy to foreigners, assist in disease screening and diagnosis with medical departments as well as dealing with other difficulties and problems encountered by foreigners during their stay in China.