Wuhan fights pneumonia battle

By Chen Qingqing in Wuhan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/22 22:58:40

Residents at epicenter remain cautiously optimistic

Most passengers are wearing masks while waiting for flights at the Wuhan Tianhe International airport. Photo: Chen Qingqing

As the whole world raises concerns over the spread of the coronavirus with the number of confirmed cases increasing, local residents in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province where the epidemic began, remained on high alert in the fight against the pneumonia with caution and optimism.

The city has rolled out an emergency plan and response mechanism, providing daily updates on new cases. Amid the gloomy weather, local residents have been avoiding outdoor activities in recent days although it's the shopping season for the Chinese New Year. 

On Wednesday night, the Wuhan government released a notice, ordering people in nearly all public venues, including hotels, train stations, airport and parks, to wear face masks to reduce the chance of coronavirus infection.

There has been a palpable sense of unease across the city, especially in major public places. As a major national transportation hub and education center, the city is in the middle of the biggest human migration on the planet in Spring Festival travel season. 

At Wuhan Tianhe International airport, the Global Times reporter saw almost everyone wearing masks. Passengers need to accept infrared body temperature screening to make sure they don't have fever. The airport also kept its ventilation functioning nonstop. Some flights bound for Wuhan have seen canceled bookings in recent days, and airlines as well as trains offer refunds to Wuhan-bound passengers. 

Local resident Laetitia said fewer people were on the streets and her company asked her to work from home. 

Authorities have confirmed the virus can be transmitted human-to-human and may mutate. Among the total confirmed cases of infection, most were related to Wuhan. 

The mayor of the city has sent out a letter to local residents, urging everyone to take preventive measures such as washing hands, wearing masks and avoiding crowded places.  

"I'm also becoming much more worried, as some Spring Festival activities have been canceled, it's getting more intense these days," Laetitia told the Global Times.

There were also fewer vehicles on the streets, a local driver surnamed Huang told the Global Times. "It's a good thing. As local authorities raised the alert, more people will take it more seriously, which would be helpful to prevent the virus from spreading," he said.  

"This is not the first time we have faced such a situation. In 1998, we encountered floods and in 2003 we fought SARS… we are confident in fighting this battle as we stand unified and determined," Wuhan government said in an open letter. 

Another local resident, who preferred not to be named, said she has to work day and night at a hospital and has canceled a Spring Festival holiday trip. "We need to keep our spirit up and be brave," she said.

Naturally frank and unrestrained, Wuhan residents are believed to be much more optimistic when facing the spreading virus. 

The Wuhan culture and tourism bureau suspended all major tourism events from Wednesday until February 8. Refunds will be given.

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