the coronavirus and china

The Coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 – the virus is believed to have originated in another animal, before being passed between humans.

It has since been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and to date (21st February 2020) 76,727 cases have been recorded – with 12,065 believed to be serious and 2,247 deaths. Just 11 of these deaths were outside mainland China.

Chinese authorities have recently increased efforts to control the spread of the virus. 18 million people in the east have been put under quarantine, many factories have been closed and 2 new hospitals have been built in Wuhan since the outbreak started, to cope with the cases.

What is the Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness affecting the lungs and airways; with symptoms that usually include a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath.

Because it is a new virus, scientists don’t know for certain how it spreads from one person to another – but similar viruses are passed on via cough droplets.

These viruses cause respiratory infections in humans – including the common cold – the rarer forms of which: SARS, MERS and COVID-19 can be lethal.

The people most susceptible, as with most infections (excluding the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-19 which also affected healthy young people) are those over 65 years of age or with pre-existing illnesses that weaken their immune system – including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

red bull team servicing a F1 car in the pits

Coronavirus and the Chinese Grand Prix

In an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus, Chinese authorities have cancelled all public events in March and future events are also under review.

The Formula One Grand Prix was due to take place in Shanghai on Sunday 19th April, but on 12th February the FIA confirmed that they had accepted a request from the race’s promoter to postpone the race in Shanghai ‘in view of the continued spread of the novel coronavirus’.

Formula One managing director, Ross Brawn is keen to leave open the opportunity to run the race later in the year as “China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we’d like to have a race in China.”

But rescheduling won’t be easy, due to a record 22 race programme and the last 14 weeks of the season already having 9 races scheduled. This would mean either 3, 4 or 5 consecutive weekends of racing and thousands of extra miles to travel.

The last time a race was postponed – the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2011 - an attempt to reschedule failed when the teams complained. The race was cancelled.

What can I do to protect myself from Coronavirus?
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (or sleeve) rather than your hands.
  • Dispose of your used tissues as soon as possible (in a dustbin).
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. Where this is not possible, use hand sanitiser.
  • If your hands are not clean, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with those with symptoms.

If you have travelled to Asia in the last 14 days, you may need to call 111 for further advice:

  • If you have visited Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days and don’t have symptoms call 111.
  • If you have visited other parts of China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia or Republic of Korea in the last 14 days and have mild symptoms – call 111.