OPINION: Coronavirus big blow for Chinese tourism
CAPE TOWN - Chinese Consul General Lin Jing, based in Cape Town, said the outbreak of the coronavirus that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, resulting in the death of more than 150 people in China, is a serious blow for tourism in the country, and globally.
"The impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese economy is worse than the SARS virus that broke out in 2003; this new virus is spreading, fortunately the Chinese government, and the world at large, is better prepared than ever to stop it” said Lin at a briefing with Independent Media Western Cape editors today.
The Chinese have been forthcoming and swift to act. The economist reported earlier this week "Chinese scientists quickly isolated the pathogen and shared its genomic details with the world. Back in the days of SARS, generic sequencing like this took weeks. The genomic data can help scientists to spot cases quickly, both in China and abroad".
The Chinese government stopped travel in and out of Wuhan and nearby cities; this might seem extreme and heavy-handed, yet, although it could drive some cases around, it will slow the spread of the virus across China and abroad.
The questions are how easily the virus can be passed directly from person to person and just how dangerous it is?
The true character of the new virus will become better known in the coming weeks; public-health measures will adjust accordingly, using lessons from SARS and MERS, a still deadlier cousin discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia that spread only through close contact.
According to the economist "come experts are of the opinion that the virus found in China could be a threat of this kind, and there will be many others; further illness will follow the same well-trodden path, by mutating from bugs that live in animals into ones that can infect people. A tougher task is dissuading people from eating wild animals and convincing them to handle livestock with care, using masks and gloves when butchering meat and fish".
Will such measures prevent the coronavirus from making headlines?
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE