Credit…Taechit Taechamanodom/Moment, via Getty Images
“BEIJING — Eight is thought to be a lucky number in China because in Chinese it sounds like the word for “fortune”; 444 is a bad number because it rings like “death”; 520 sounds like “I love you.”
Having always disliked superstition, I was dismayed to receive a message by WeChat at 4:44 p.m. on May 20, Beijing time, informing me that my uncle Eric, who lived in New York, had died from Covid-19. He was 74.
Uncle Eric was a pharmacist, so presumably he contracted the virus from a patient who had visited his shop in Queens. Infected in March, he was sick for more than two months. He was kept on a ventilator until his last 10 days: By then, he was deemed incurable and the ventilator was redirected to other patients who might be saved.
The medical trade runs in my family. I now preside over a medical university in Beijing with 19 affiliated hospitals. I studied medicine because my father was a doctor, a pulmonary physician. He decided to study medicine after losing his mother to a minor infection when he was 13. My father did not expect to lose a brother 15 years his junior to a disease in his own specialty: the respiratory system.”
Vietnam continues to astound me. They just sent 450,000 protective suits to U.S. health workers. That’s on top of supplies they’ve sent to many other countries, including China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. They’ve done nationwide social distancing, systematic contact tracing, and two and a half months after their first case they are still holding it down to 255 with no fatalities. All the headlines are about the success stories in Singapore and Taiwan – which together have a total of 2,290 cases and 11 deaths. Their combined population is less than 30 million. Vietnam’s is 95 million. Do the math. I’ve written to the New York Times urging them to cover this story. Credit where credit is due.
“CHICAGO — My mother believes that God and the Chinese Communist Party will defeat the novel coronavirus.
“Pray for Wuhan. Pray for China,” she urges me, referring to the capital of Hubei Province, where the outbreak started. It is early February, a week and some since Wuhan was placed under lockdown. My mother lives in our hometown in a neighboring province, and like most places in China, her city has enacted quarantine measures. But she is relatively safe there, and knowing that brings me selfish reassurance as I watch the crisis unfold throughout China: I am her only child and live on the other side of the planet, which is still barely touched by the coronavirus.
Every morning since late January, I have woken up in Chicago to a string of messages from my mother. The emails and texts continue through lunchtime; occasionally they pop up in the afternoon, and I know it’s been another sleepless night for her.
My mother forwards me reports from Chinese state media about how the government is taking swift action to combat the epidemic. She sends me screenshots of conversations with friends, as they discuss life under quarantine and how to convince unruly family members to stay inside.”
The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.
Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart. As Koreans learned of the scale and aggressiveness of Covid-19, first from Chinese reports, then from a surge of cases at home, the mask with the weave and construction that proved most effective against the virus could not be found, except at exorbitant prices online. Customers grew angry waiting outside stores. One Incheon pharmacy posted a sign saying, “Regarding masks: Threats, physical violence and insults against employees are punishable under criminal law.”
Such was the extent of the “mask crisis” when the central government decided to intervene in production and distribution. At the end of February, it announced that it would purchase 50 percent of KF-94 masks from the nation’s 130 or so manufacturers. The government began to ship these masks, at a discounted price of 1,500 won each (about $1.23), to some 23,000 pharmacies, in cooperation with the Korean Pharmaceutical Association.
A deserted market in New Delhi.Credit…Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
“NEW DELHI — On Tuesday evening, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, ordered a strict nationwide lockdown for the next 21 days to battle the spread of the coronavirus.
The busy marketplace in my upscale South Delhi neighborhood is desolate the next morning. Almost all shops are shuttered. The florist who delivered exotic flowers to wealthy homes has abandoned his stock, and the pungent smell of rotting flowers hangs heavy in the air. A pet store has locked up and left the animals inside. Their muffled screams are unbearable.
At the local chemist, two men are at each other’s throats. A large gray-haired man in a lawyer’s robe is shouting expletives through his mask as he towers over a short, scruffy domestic worker. The worker has bought all the acetaminophen in the shop for his employers, and the lawyer is having none of it. The scuffle between the two men seems like an act of transgression — not because it is violent but because it involves freewheeling physical contact.
“Touch is curse,” I was told by a man as he wheeled his stock of sweet potatoes down deserted streets, defying the lockdown in the hope of earning enough to buy food for his family. He offered free sweet potatoes to an old man in a tattered mask sweeping the road. The sweeper, wary of infection, turned his offer down.
“China’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has imperiled itself and the world because it is a land of 21st-century science and 19th-century politics.
Scholars in China predicted a year ago in an article in the journal Viruses that it was “highly likely” that there would be coronavirus outbreaks, calling it an “urgent issue.” Once the outbreak occurred, other Chinese scientists rapidly identified the virus and sequenced its DNA, posting it on Jan. 10 on a virology website for all to see. That was extraordinarily good and fast work.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party instinctively organized a cover-up, ordering the police to crack down on eight doctors accused of trying to alert others to the risks. National television programs repeatedly denounced the doctors as rumormongers.
One of those eight doctors, Li Wenliang, caught the virus and died — causing public outrage. Some Chinese make the point that if Li had been in charge of China, rather than President Xi Jinping, many lives might have been saved.
“The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance,” a law professor in Beijing, Xu Zhangrun, wrote this month in an online essay that was immediately banned. “The level of popular fury is volcanic, and a people thus enraged may, in the end, also cast aside their fear.”
Xu certainly cast aside his own fear, predicting that he would face new punishments but adding, “I cannot remain silent.”
He called on his fellow Chinese citizens to demand free speech and free elections and urged: “Rage against injustice; let your lives burn with a flame of decency; break through stultifying darkness and welcome the dawn.”
Xu is now incommunicado, but it is remarkable to see the groundswell of anger online toward the dictatorship. Citizens can’t denounce Xi by name, but they are skilled in evading censors — such as by substituting President Trump’s name for Xi’s.”
“WUHAN, China — A mysterious illness had stricken seven patients at a hospital, and a doctor tried to warn his medical school classmates. “Quarantined in the emergency department,” the doctor, Li Wenliang, wrote in an online chat group on Dec. 30, referring to patients.
“So frightening,” one recipient replied, before asking about the epidemic that began in China in 2002 and ultimately killed nearly 800 people. “Is SARS coming again?”
In the middle of the night, officials from the health authority in the central city of Wuhan summoned Dr. Li, demanding to know why he had shared the information. Three days later, the police compelled him to sign a statement that his warning constituted “illegal behavior.”
The illness was not SARS, but something similar: a coronavirus that is now on a relentless march outward from Wuhan, throughout the country and across the globe, killing at least 304 people in China and infecting more than 14,380 worldwide.”
“…….Several companies said they only used antimicrobial material in food for sea animals, although in reality they sold them to veterinary units, which would eventually sell them to marine animal farms, Dũng said.
During a product examination, a company purchasing shrimps in southern Cà Mau Province found antibiotic residue in up to 15 per cent of the total quantity of shrimps, according to the ministry’s Specialised Inspection Division.
“The ministry’s inspectors will continue highlighting the issue in a key inspection programme next year to put an end to the use of antibiotics in aquaculture.Such programmes needs close collaboration with the health sector to be effective, Dũng said. — VNS”