On 23 January 2020, Huanggang became the second city in China to be placed into lockdown following the rapid spread of the coronavirus over the past couple of weeks.
Huanggang in Hubei Province is a city of around 7.5 million people and is located one hour and twenty minutes drive to the east of Wuhan, the epicentre of the viral outbreak. Huanggang is at the centre of a fertile agricultural region, laced through with lakes and rivers, and is the location of the new Weltmeister electrical vehicle manufacturing plant.
Impact of the Wuhan Coronavirus
Ten cases of the Wuhan coronavirus had officially been reported, by the end of the day on 20 January, according to Reuters. Two days later, this number had risen to 12 confirmed and 16 suspected cases, with no deaths officially reported.
This appears to be contradicted by at least one video where a doctor is overheard saying that there were three floors full of patients in one hospital, while the Government’s response in preparing a thousand-bed hospital in two days would also seem to belie the official statistics.
The doctor in question was filmed at a hospital believed to be in Huanggang reporting that there were three floors full of patients, but that senior management was afraid to report the level of the outbreak.
A doctor was filmed saying the media does not dare to report the true figures of infections in the city of Huanggang, which is near #Wuhan, repeating that 3 local hospitals were filled with patients presented with fever. pic.twitter.com/FYHjxRJLXG
— JASON CHEN (@ajasonchen) January 25, 2020
Another unverified video purports to show another hospital in Huanggang with long lines of people waiting for medical attention, some of whom are clearly suffering from severe respiratory problems.
#武汉肺炎 湖北省 仙桃市 鄂州市 黄冈市 晚上也已经封城 … 我们需要医疗协助 需要各类防护物资 ！！！ pic.twitter.com/ud0H6hE7yt
— 武汉加油 (@Luca07892535) January 23, 2020
Meanwhile, Huaren News is reporting that doctors in Huanggang were understocked with supplies necessary to maintain biological control.
目前所有注意力都是 #武汉疫情，但事态至今整个湖北全境已极其危险，武汉周边市县黄冈、孝感等地已成第二大疫区，基础医疗薄弱、确诊流程复杂，再加有限的关注度，让那里情况更加无奈与严峻。需驰援武汉，也需驰援整个湖北省。#黄石，鄂B，物资极缺，感染科防护服都是消毒了再穿。#武汉肺炎 pic.twitter.com/zU6lXJuRQF
— 华人新闻 (@HuarenNews) January 26, 2020
The Chinese Government has announced that the central medical facility will be transformed into a one-thousand-bed facility to deal with those diagnosed with the virus.
Medical center in central China’s Huanggang is being transformed into a specialized hospital with 1,000 beds for #coronavirus patients. The project will be completed in two days. pic.twitter.com/nmq4OS6dyC
— China News 中国新闻网 (@Echinanews) January 26, 2020
Early Detection, Early Isolation, Early Diagnosis, Early Treatment: The Huanggang Medical Response
While ordinary people have been segregating themselves to prevent the spread of the disease, medical authorities in Huanggang are building their strategy around four ‘earlies’: early detection, early isolation, early diagnosis and early treatment.
Patients are being advised to look for fever, fatigue and dry cough as among the earliest symptoms, although it was also noted by the authorities that some patients who were in a critical condition who had no or low fever.
In the case of early diagnosis, the authorities recommend bed rest, paying attention to water and electrolyte balance, monitoring vital signs and oxygen saturation, among other formal treatments.
The medical capacity of Huanggang has been supplemented by a 138-person medical team from Hunan Provice.
In response to the council, city authorities suspended bus and rail services on 23 January, and is encouraging people not to go out unless strictly necessary.
In addition to official orders, it appears that many families in Huanggang have been self-segregating. While families have been stocking up in food in preparation for the lunar new year, the situation for many living in apartment blocks and in the centre of city is particularly grave, as these families are less likely to have extensive supplies of food and are less willing to risk going out in public.
The State Council announced that the Spring Festival Holiday had been extended to 2 February, in order to prevent gatherings of people in public.
In addition, the Hubei Province Market Supervision Board announced measures on 27 January 2020 to prevent price gouging.
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Picture by そらみみ – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link. Picture cropped.