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    China Locks Down 3 Cities Over Mysterious Virus Spreading Rapidly

    Health officials say travelers to China should wear a surgical mask in crowded areas, use hand sanitizer, wash their hands regularly, wear gloves and avoid eating game meat.
    As China locks down 3 cities, here’s why the mysterious coronavirus continues to spread so rapidly

    In an effort to stem the spread of the virus from its suspected origin, officials in Wuhan, a city with 11 million residents, said they had temporarily closed the area’s outgoing airport and railway stations, and suspend all public transport. Long-distance trains and buses from Huanggang, a neighboring city with 7.5 million people, will stop running indefinitely from midnight Friday local time. Ezhou, a third city in the region with 1 million people, is also closing public transportation

    The pneumonia-causing virus has spread in China, helped by the country’s Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday. “This is the wild card,” the Associated Press reported. “People unfamiliar with China have trouble understanding the immense travel phenomenon that occurs during Lunar New Year, when, over a one-month period, some 3 billion people are on the move, many returning to their home towns and regions but others vacationing. Peak travel occurs this week.”
    The virus has spread in China, helped by the country’s Lunar New Year holiday.
    Another reason for the rapid spread: While some people are canceling travel plans in China and opting to stay home over the holiday period, others may not yet have experienced the worst of the symptoms, believe themselves to be well enough to travel and/or could be reluctant to pay up to $400 to change a flight — especially if they believe they merely have a common cold. In fact, previous iterations of the coronavirus are very similar to a common cold.
    Previous iterations of the coronavirus are very similar to a common cold.
    People may not know they’re carrying the virus, and doctors don’t yet know how long it takes to develop. “If you knew the incubation period, you could do quarantining of people who are in close contact with infected patients,” Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, told The Wall Street Journal. “You would monitor those people for the incubation period.” Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell, according to the CDC.

    In an attempt to remain competitive and profitable, airlines have increased their turnaround times in recent years. Many budget airlines, for example, have reduced turnaround times to 25 minutes by removing the seat pockets. Other airlines have managed to have long-haul turnaround times of 90 minutes. Not only do planes get new plane load of passengers, they often get a completely different crew. Deep cleans are not always possible during such turnarounds, which could aid in the transmission of the coronavirus. After flying, most people take public transport.

    You may avoid stainless steel poles on subways and buses, but do you touch turnstiles and ticket machines? They are arguably touched by even more people, says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. Commuters are 6 times more likely to develop an acute respiratory infection if they traveled recently by bus or train, a report published in the BMC Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded.

    What can you do? Aisle seats will be touched most often by other people as they’re trying to find their own, Gerba says. In 2008, members of a tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting in an airplane flight from Boston to Los Angeles. Other passengers who suffered secondary infections were either sitting next to those infected — or unsuspecting passengers seated in aisle seats, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

    We may move away if we see someone sneeze at the water cooler or on a train, but touching objects is a faster way to transmit viruses, Gerba says. He recommends using hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipes, particularly at the office where people may be reluctant to stay home if they’re sick. One 2014 study, presented at an American Society for Microbiology meeting in Washington D.C., the workers pick up 30% to 50% of the organisms that are left on surfaces.

    In the meantime, travelers to China should wear a surgical mask in crowded areas and avoid eating game meat. “Avoid wet markets selling game meat and live poultry,” David Hui, chairman of the department of medicine and therapeutics and director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told MarketWatch. “More infections are expected in other provinces and cities and other countries during the Chinese New Year holiday.”

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