Two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague — a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated.
The two individuals were being treated at a central hospital in China’s capital city — home to over 21 million inhabitants — on Tuesday, local authorities said.
Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form of plague,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous.
The patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding that the “relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented.”
The Beijing government did not respond to AFP’s calls for comment, but the WHO confirmed that Chinese authorities had notified them about the plague cases.
“The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases, and increasing surveillance,” said Fabio Scano, coordinator at WHO China.
Scano told AFP that “the risk of transmission of the pulmonary plague is for close contacts and we understand that these are being screened and managed.”
According to the WHO website, the lung-based pneumonic plague is very contagious and “can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air.”
Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.
On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, Chinese censors scrubbed the hashtag “Beijing confirms it is treating plague cases” as they tried to control discussions — and panic — around the disease.
“I just want to know how these two came to Beijing??” posted one user. “By train, airplane, or did they drive themselves?”
“Bird flu in the year of the rooster…swine fever in the year of the pig,” wrote another. “Next year is the year of the rat…the plague is coming.”
The plague germ Yersinia pestis can be transmitted to humans from infected rats via fleas.
In 2014, a man died of the plague in northwestern Gansu province in China and sparked the quarantine of 151 people.
The 30,000 people living in Yumen, the town where the man died, were also prevented from leaving, with police at roadblocks placed on the town perimeter.
According to China’s National Health Commission, a total of five people have died from the plague between 2014 and September of this year.
Trump fears his base will turn on him if he flips and calls for nationwide mask guidelines: CNN
On CNN Saturday, analyst Ron Brownstein outlined the key reason President Donald Trump is struggling to adapt his message to proper public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.
"Ron, there is a retail trade group that has asked President Trump to institute federal, nationwide mask guidelines at stores across the country as the country continues to re-open," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "Experts are saying that masks could save thousands of lives in the coming months. Do you see a scenario in which — any chance in which he would issue that?"
"I think the short answer is no, and for a revealing reason," said Brownstein. "He is in a trap of his own construction. On coronavirus, we talk all the time about how President Trump's base is bonded to him, immovably. He's also bonded to the base in the other direction, that he is very reluctant to get out crosswise with a base that includes the kind of people that showed up at the Michigan capital to protest lockdown without wearing masks and waving Confederate flags and carrying automatic weapons."
Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead
There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.
This article first appeared in Salon.
What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.
As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode
This article first appeared in Salon.
There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)