Parts of this content was first published on GoKunming and reposted with permission on January 28, 2020. For the original article with live updates regarding the Coronavirus situation and transport in Yunnan see this link to the original article.
As many have already heard, a new strain of Coronavirus has emerged in China. It first emerged in Wuhan in Hubei province, coming from a wet market selling fish and wild animal meat, and the city has been hit worst with thousands of people having caught the virus. Cases have emerged in other provinces, most were people who travelled from Wuhan, some were in contact with people coming from Wuhan. Because the virus can linger in the body without symptoms for 1 to 14 days, there is fear that the virus has been spread before the Chinese New Year holiday and many people are not showing symptoms yet. The Chinese government has taken precautions for further spread by locking down traffic from and to Wuhan. Nationwide the government has cancelled big public events, closed attractions and extended the Spring Festival holiday until February 3rd.
How bad is the virus?
There has been a lot of misinformation on the web and panic brews online on social media. The situation is tragic for the families and friends of the ill and the medics working hard to do everything they can to tend to the patients, but we also want to put the situation into context.
The virus itself is most dangerous to elderly and people with a weakened immune system. Young and healthy people will be able to fight off the virus and young children don’t seem affected at all. Many people who have died from the new Coronavirus, had underlying health issues for example respiratory issues, heart disease or cancer, and may also have died from the flu. A quick search online for flu deaths around the world will show that hundreds of thousands of people die yearly due to the flu (caused by the influenza virus).
For many people the symptoms seem very similar to a common cold, as the symptoms range from a runny nose, dry coughing, diarrhea, fever, difficulty breathing to in most severe cases pneumonia. What causes worry, is that the virus is new and not yet fully understood and there is no vaccine yet. The long time it takes for the virus to show symptoms is also a factor to worry. But the measurements taken by the government will help stop the virus from spreading and people are advised to stay at home and don’t visit crowded places to protect the vulnerable people from the virus.
Numbers of cases in China
At time of writing (Tue. Jan 28 19:40) 4.618 people are confirmed to have the virus, with 6.973 suspected cases. 106 people have passed away due to the symptoms of the Corona virus, from which 100 in Hubei province. This is a mortality rate of 2.3% or lower than 1% if you include the suspected cases, which is in both cases much lower than SARS, which had a mortality rate of 10% and is often compared with this new Coronavirus. The number of recovered people is already rising, with 69 people declared healthy and have left the hospital.
In Yunnan there are 44 cases confirmed, from which 12 in Kunming. Most are people who came from Wuhan during January and the dates and ways they arrived and places they visited in Yunnan have been anonymously published online. The Yunnan provincial governement has taken measurements to prevent further spreading of the virus, you can read about them below.
Reliable sources about the Coronavirus in China
This is the link to an official government source that keeps up-to-date by the hour on the number of cases throughout China and per province (in Chinese). Other Chinese news sources, informed by the government, are also reporting extensively on the spread of the virus. Check ccwb.cn for Chinese information and China Daily for English coverage. There is a good article with a helpful and sensible video about the virus in The Guardian.
The Yunnan government has released an article targeted at foreigners in Yunnan which you can find here. Foreigners are further advised to follow these WeChat accounts to keep up with the situation in Yunnan: The Yunnan Health Commission — search '云南卫生12320' — and the Publicity Department of the CPC Yunnan Provincial Committee — search "云南发布".
We hope people are aware of fake news going around on social media such as YouTube and Facebook. If there is no link to a verified and trustworthy source but only text, a screenshot or a blurry video, it could be fake or not relevant to the situation here in Yunnan. Please check the original sources mentioned above.
Yunnan Transportation updates
Some trains will be suspended from January 29 on, check this link for detailed information about which trains. Temperature measurement equipment is installed at all train stations.
Kunming city buses operate normally, according to the normal holiday schedule. Long-distance and interprovincial bus routes have been suspended until further notice.
Some highways in Yunnan have been closed to traffic, but most cities in Yunnan are still reachable through at least one highway. Cars can enter and exit, but drivers and passengers may have their temperature checked at checkpoints and a simple registration of name and phone number might be needed. Some cities do not allow vehicles from other provinces to enter. It’s best to check the official info from Yunnan province on highway blocks.
Didi and taxis are operating as per usual in Kunming but you can't travel outside city limits. It is still possible to go to Kunming airport.
The subway is running normally (on holiday schedule), but facemasks are required for entry into the Kunming Metro system. Your temperature will be checked and you need to register your name, temperature and phone number when entering the subway.
Airport and flights
Kunming Airport is open and functioning as usual apart from extra temperature checks. People are advised to come early due to the extra checks. You can follow the Yunnan Airport Group (YAG) WeChat account for updates: add their ID “kunmingairport”.
Some airlines have limited or suspended their flights to and from China. Check with the airline you have booked with or are planning to fly with.
Closed businesses and institutions
The national Spring Festival holiday dates have been extended until Monday, February 3. This means that schools and official institutions such as the Entry and Exit Bureau will be closed until February 3, Including our Wonders of Yunnan office. Government officials and medical staff have been called back from their holidays and are on standby.
Is Yunnan dangerous?
Right now the virus is under control in Yunnan, with people who came from Wuhan and Hubei province in the last weeks being monitored. Most of our lives of us living in Kunming are not affected more than it would otherwise during Spring Festival, with many shops, restaurants and bars closed due to the holiday. We just need to wear a mouth cap in some public places (subway, and Carrefour supermarket for example), but it is not mandatory on the streets. More info on closing times of Kunming businesses during Spring Festival in this article, including updates in the comments below the article. The Yunnan government has listed 20 measurements they have taken to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
But to keep the virus at bay, tourist attractions across the country, and thus also Yunnan province have been closed. Major attractions around Yunnan, including but not limited to the Stone Forest, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La and Xishuangbanna are closed until further notice. It is because of this and not directly because of the danger of the virus, that we advise foreign visitors who are considering to come to Yunnan to postpone your trip.
We will keep up-to-date with the attraction opening times, and we hope that after the holiday, when Chinese peak season is over and when the virus wave has calmed down, we can welcome travelers to Yunnan again without worries!
With general hygiene precautions we can all help to prevent contagion. As mentioned before, for most healthy people there is no need to panic as mortality rate is low. Elderly and people with underlying health condition need to be extra careful.
Don't forget about your mental and emotional health either, as stress also weakens the immune system! Talk to a friend about your worries. Go for a walk. Take a deep breath. Here are some helpful tips on good self care that can help in alleviating anxiety.
We wish everyone in China relaxed and worry-free holidays with their family and friends at home, and we send loving wishes to the ones in the hospital and the medical staff working 24/7 to take care of all the patients. We are sure the situation will be under control and it will soon get better!