A simple Google search will show you the ghost town Wuhan has become, with only people travelling out of their house for good reason – to the hospital or supermarket. And in those scenes, overcrowded hospitals full of the sick and fearful; supermarkets patronised by those in masks with travel bags in tow to stock up a supply of food and essentials.
In less than a week, cases of the Wuhan virus have skyrocketed from hundreds to thousands, bringing along its death toll up from two to three digits. Singapore’s number of infected has also gone up to seven, all of which are imported cases.
Deeming there is no evidence of community spread, the Ministry of Health has implemented no entries or transits for travellers with Hubei passports or those who have travelled there recently.
The Chinese government itself has banned travel in some cities as a way to contain the disease.
The series of events unfolding have revived everyone’s past fears of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, the first pandemic of the 21st century in 2003 which infected over 8,000 and killed nearly 800 – in the mix, 238 Singaporeans infected and 33 killed.
Many also drew links to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which began in the Middle East in 2012 and spread to 27 countries around the world.
All three diseases come from the same family of coronaviruses causing flu-like symptoms that may result in pneumonia. They also all originate from animals, although scientists have yet to determine which animal source is responsible for the Wuhan virus.
While there are still many mysteries surrounding the virus perpetuated by Wuhan’s wet markets, a key question of whether or not it could be worse than Sars or Mers remains.
Get up to speed with what we know about the virus so far: