Nine people have already died from the coronavirus in China, and the number of infected people has risen to 440. The WHO is consulting on safety measures.
Safety precautions against the coronary virus in Wuhan, China Photo: Dake Kang/ap/dpa
afp/reuters/dpa/ap | The fear of a possible epidemic touches a primal human fear. Not exactly reassuring are the reports that the novel coronavirus is spreading outside China. According to Chinese figures, the number of infected people rose to 440 on Tuesday, and nine people have died so far. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. have each confirmed one case, while Thailand has three cases.
However, the German government is not currently advising against travel to China. "At the moment, we see no reason for a travel warning," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said Wednesday. There are currently no affected Germans. The Ministry of Health said that the situation was being closely monitored and that it was prepared. The virus is far less dangerous than, for example, the lung disease Sars. "Overall, the danger or risk to the health of the population is very low," the ministry said.
Experts are still divided on how the spread of the virus will continue. It is assumed that through travelers, the lung disease can occur sporadically in Europe. The World Health Organization met Wednesday for a crisis meeting to decide whether to declare an international health emergency. That would allow the WHO to recommend tougher measures to combat the disease.
When the Sars virus emerged in China more than 17 years ago, the WHO recommended measures such as fever readings at airports. This was intended to detect those who might be ill. The WHO also recommended such measurements after the swine flu outbreak in 2009. However, researchers at the University of Perth in Australia concluded in a 2015 study that the measures were not effective.
An animal market is believed to be the source of the new virus
Frankfurt Airport believes it is well equipped against the coronavirus and has so far dispensed with additional controls. Currently, there is "no need to take further measures," said a spokeswoman for operator Fraport. The airport is following the travel and security advice of the WHO and the German Foreign Office. Due to past epidemics, the airport is very well prepared, she said. Should there be a further spread of the lung disease, emergency services would be trained to recognize symptoms.
An animal market in Wuhan, China, is believed to be the source of the new 2019-nCoV virus. Researchers believe that the infections originally came from animals and the virus subsequently spread from human to human. Price lists available on the Internet show that countless species of animals ranging from live foxes, crocodiles and wolf pups to civets were sold in the Wuhan market. Civets were the source of the Sars coronavirus that killed nearly 800 people in China and Hong Kong in 20.