Home WorldAsia Coronavirus: Brazil evacuates 34 nationals from Wuhan | World news

Coronavirus: Brazil evacuates 34 nationals from Wuhan | World news

by Nigeria Currently
Coronavirus: Brazil evacuates 34 nationals from Wuhan | World news

Brazilian nationals evacuated from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the coronavirus crisis, will land shortly in national territory and will be taken to an airforce base where they will be quarantined for 18 days.

The rescue comes after a video plea made to the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro last week. One of those in the video, Adrielly Eger, 18, a model, told the Band news network she was “very grateful”.

The 34 Brazilians, a mixed group of students, professionals, couples and children, should arrive at Anápolis airbase, 150km from the capital Brasília at 1am local time in an operation labelled Return to Homeland Brazil .

‘Contact is limited’: inside the world’s coronavirus quarantines – video

They will be isolated in transit hotels on the airbase, which according to local media will have access to video games, internet and the opportunity to watch military bands play live outside.

Roberto Naves, the mayor of Anápolis, which is in the mid-western state of Goiás, told local radio that residents of the city of 362,000 had first been apprehensive about hosting the evacuees but had no reason to worry.

But in a note, Sandro Mabel, the president of Goiás industry federation, called the quarantine a “disaster for the state”, arguing that they should be hosted somewhere else.

“We could suffer segregation of what is produced in Goiás, affecting the export of processed products and meat, for example,” he wrote.

Ronaldo Caiado, Goiás’ conservative governor and a staunch Bolsonaro ally, told reporters that Mabel’s comments were “inhumane” and called him a “scoundrel”.

Also travelling on the two planes from Wuhan were four Poles and a Chinese national, who disembarked during refuelling in Warsaw, Poland.

What is the virus causing illness in Wuhan?

It is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city.

What other coronaviruses have there been?

New and troubling viruses usually originate in animal hosts. Ebola and flu are other examples – severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers) are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals. 

What are the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus?

The virus causes pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?

Human to human transmission has been confirmed by China’s national health commission, and there have been human-to-human transmissions in the US and in Germany. As of 8 February, the death toll stands at 722 inside China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. Infections inside China stand at 31,161 and global infections have passed 280 in 28 countries. The mortality rate is 2%.

Two members of one family have been confirmed to have the virus in the UK, and a third person was diagnosed with it in Brighton, after more than 400 were tested and found negative. The Foreign Office has urged UK citizens to leave China if they can. Five new cases in France are British nationals, and British nationals are also among the 64 cases on a cruise liner off Japan.

The number of people to have contracted the virus could be far higher, as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected. Modelling by World Health Organization (WHO) experts at Imperial College London suggests there could be as many as 100,000 cases, with uncertainty putting the margins between 30,000 and 200,000.

Why is this worse than normal influenza, and how worried are the experts?

We don’t yet know how dangerous the new coronavirus is, and we won’t know until more data comes in. The mortality rate is around 2%. However, this is likely to be an overestimate since many more people are likely to have been infected by the virus but not suffered severe enough symptoms to attend hospital, and so have not been counted. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10%.

Should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?

Unless you have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, then you should treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal. The NHS advises that people should call 111 instead of visiting the GP’s surgery as there is a risk they may infect others.

Is this a pandemic and should we panic?

Health experts are starting to say it could become a pandemic, but right now it falls short of what the WHO would consider to be one. A pandemic, in WHO terms, is “the worldwide spread of a disease”. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in about 25 countries outside China, but by no means in all 195 on the WHO’s list.

There is no need to panic. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern, and says there is a “window of opportunity” to halt the spread of the disease. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact.

Sarah Boseley Health editor and Hannah Devlin 

The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported that Brazil had refused to evacuate citizens from neighbouring South American nations including Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia.

In the article, one Argentinian diplomat speculated the preference for the Poles was “ideological”, with Bolsonaro favouring Poland’s Christian nationalist government.

Brazil’s foreign office – led by minister Ernesto Araújo, who believes climate change is a Marxist plot – refuted the claims saying there was not sufficient space and that Poland offered authorisation to refuel first.

Brazil declared the coronavirus a public health emergency earlier this week. According to the health ministry, there are eight possible coronavirus cases being monitored, while 24 cases have been dismissed.

The ministry has also been issuing regular online warnings about “fake news” relating to the virus, with one of the latest being that it is “similar to HIV” and “was created in a lab”.

Meanwhile, a woman in Rio de Janeiro was arrested for faking coronavirus symptoms and saying she had recently returned from Hong Kong in an attempt to jump the queue at a local health clinic.

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