Government authorities in China have decided to cancel Beijing’s Lunar New Year celebrations in hopes of stopping the spread of the deadly and contagious Coronavirus from spreading. As of December 2019, a deadly outbreak of Coronavirus has caused great terror in China, which has resulted in over 1263 infections, and 41 deaths. The disease has also been detected in Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the United States.
Authorities in China are scrambling to urgently shut down the spread of the virus, which is estimated to have an impact ten times worse than Sars (Severe acute respiratory syndrome). So much so that China’s government have taken the drastic step in cancelling China’s Lunar New Year celebrations in the capital Beijing.
The Chinese New Year has celebrated 3 500 years of history, although the exact origin is not known. Many people believe that Chinese New Year originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC) when at the beginning or end of each year people held sacrificial rituals honouring gods and ancestors.
Often, the Chinese New Year sees up to 3 billion individual people travel across the world to visit family and friends on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, known as “the great migration.” In 2019, 400 million flights outside of China were taken over the New Year. However, this year China has imposed travel restrictions for more than 35 million citizens as fears mount. More than 13 Chinese cities have been placed on lockdown, namely: Wuhan, Ezhou, Dangyang, Enshi, Xiantao, Huanggang, Chibi, Jingmen, Zhejiang, Qianjiang, Xianning, Huangshi, and Xiaogan.
Hospitals in Wuhan have made urgent appeals for supplies and help, with a new hospital currently being built and due for completion next week. Chinese residents, have allegedly been turned away from overfull hospitals. At present, scientists have stated that developing a vaccine to fight Coronavirus may take several months.
Nearby central cities in China, Huanggang, and Ezhou have announced similar measures. According to a notice from the local government, long-distance buses, the rapid transit system and the train station in Huanggang will be shut down. Entertainment venues such as the cinemas, internet cafes and bars will also be not operating.
Wuhan is the capital city of the Hubei province of central China and has a rich cultural and historical heritage and many tourist attractions. It is a flourishing modern city and a place of contrasts, with architecture, informed by the early 20th century ranging from traditional Chinese to European, as well as plenty of modernist architecture.
A city with a 3 500 year history and holds a significant place in China’s military, economic and political development. Wuhan is the most populous city in central China, with a population of over 11 million, over two million more than New York City.
While the root cause of the respiratory disease has been difficult to trace, a new study published earlier this week in the China Science Bulletin suggested the new coronavirus shared a strain of virus found in bats. Experts have suggested that deadly outbreaks of Sars and Ebola occurred in the flying mammal. Scientists have stated that the virus started in the fish-market of Wuhan, which sells live animals to restaurant traders. A popular dish in China, the “bat soup”, is alleged to be the cause of the animal to human transmission of the virus.
Top health experts in China have cautioned the international media and governments, about the possible risks of Coronavirus, raising concerns of international disease control challenges. Coronavirus was initially only spread through very close contact, namely hugging, kissing, or sharing utensils, however recent development have shown that the virus is also airborne and highly contagious.
Adverse effect on the tourism sector
Wuhan City is a major transportation hub in Central China, its airport and railway stations have been temporarily closed for departing passengers. For 11 million citizens, travelling to visit family and friends over the festive season, will not be possible, as public transportation has also been closed until further notice.
As citizens’ concerns continue to rise, the impact is felt by China’s travel and tourism sector. More than 400 million people of China were expected to travel over the Lunar New Year. Instead, flights and hotels have been cancelled as travel restrictions are imposed. It is expected that Coronavirus will have a disastrous impact on China’s economy. In 2018, 62.9 million tourists visited China, but this year hundreds of thousands of flights have been cancelled.
Previously, the Sars virus placed Hong Kong in a recession, and the impact of Coronavirus on the Chinese economy will be enormous. However, Hong Kong quickly bounced back from the Sars epidemic, and any recession is likely to be temporary.
A statement taken from the Governmental Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau stated that to control the epidemic, all large-scale events, including temple fairs in Beijing will be cancelled.
Travel bans have affected hundreds of families, as planned trips and scheduled bookings to visit their families over the festive season have been cancelled. Something which is particularly difficult for rural workers and those who live abroad, only visiting family over the Chinese New Year.