“Face masks. They have been sold out – none left” a sign on the front of a Pudong drugstore in Shanghai reads. (Special to the Aldergrove Star)

B.C. teacher witnesses coronavirus terror in Shanghai: ‘Everyone is on edge’

Face masks and hand sanitizer ‘sell out’ as 9 SARS-like illness cases confirmed in the city

In Shanghai, where 9 coronavirus-related pneumonia cases have been confirmed by China’s Centre for Disease Control on Tuesday, many citizens are still braving public spaces.

Aldergrove-born English teacher Sarah Van Vliet is currently in the city.

“The atmosphere feels off and everyone is on edge,” she told the Aldergrove Star on Wednesday.

Even in a bustling metropolis like Shanghai with a population of over 24 million, Van Vliet said, protective face masks have largely sold out.

“It’s crazy,” Van Vliet said.

It took the teacher eight different trips to drug stores in the Pudong district Wednesday morning to find and purchase a mask.

“Face masks. They have been sold out – none left” a sign on the front of a Pudong drugstore Van Vliet visited read.

Hand sanitizer has been equally as difficult to find, Van Vliet noted.

With the number of reported infections from the virus climbing to 440 across 13 Chinese provinces, and concern that amount will rise, Shanghai’s streets and public transit have become an ocean of masks.

Normally, people in the city only wear such protection when they suffer from the common cold or the flu, Van Vliet observed.

But since word has spread of the coronavirus, nearly every person the teacher has come across has worn one.

“It’s extreme,” she described.

And when most in Shanghai would normally gear up to travel as part of their Lunar New Year Plans, many decided to stay put.

“I had to cancel an overnight train ticket to Jihan because it just wasn’t worth the risk [of contracting the virus] to be on a train that long,” Van Vliet explained.

READ ALSO: Province asks health care staff to be vigilant in screening for possible coronavirus cases

The city’s airports and major transit hubs began taking passengers’ temperatures on Wednesday, as part of an effort to prevent the spread of the recent SARS-like virus outbreak, Shanghai Health Commission said in a press release.

In addition, the airport terminals as well as railway and bus stations have also enhanced sterilization processes and ventilation, it added.

Experts from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention have urged local residents to avoid outdoor activities, especially in crowded areas, to protect themselves from the respiratory illness.

Van Vliet avoided taking public transit Wednesday, venturing to purchase a car service instead to transport home and avoid close contact with city crowds.

The Outbreak

The new strain of coronavirus, termed 2019-nCoV, has government officials in Shanghai pleading with its citizens to wash their hands and wear surgical or respiratory-grade face masks.

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that killed over 700 people in the 2000s was also a coronavirus. And so is the common cold.

So far, nine people in China have died after contracting the new infection from in and around Wuhan, the central city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Wuhan, just 521 miles away from Shanghai, has been shutdown to visitors as well as flights and passenger train services, as of last week Thursday.

A total of 444 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths have been confirmed within the capital city.

RELATED: Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

The virus has also spread to other parts of China, with some cases reported in other countries, including the United States.

China

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A closer look at the drugstore sign in Pudong, Shanghai tells the public it has sold out of face masks as well as hand sanitizer. (Special to the Aldergrove Star)

Just Posted

Vernon sewing instructor teaches flawless fitting

Clothes for real curves made possible with Dawne Whelpley’s workshops

Vernon-area duo still awaiting trial for animal abuse

Trial date expected to be set within the next three weeks

Vernon woman named one of B.C.’s Top 40 business leaders

Amanda Shatzko, consultant and politician, picked up Business in Vancouver Top 40 selection

Lavington garage goes up in flames

The house next to the garage was minimally damaged; residents required to vacate home temporarily

Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings take spotlight in Vernon

Outlaw Country to revive classics of the Man in Black in March

Okanagan divers ready to take on 2020 B.C. Winter Games

The athletes have been training four days a week

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

EDITORIAL: Revisiting cannabis regulations

Recent retail license application has brought up concerns about present policy in Summerland

Guidelines regulate Summerland cannabis stores

The municipality’s policy, 300.6 establishes the 50-metre buffer zone around schools and parks

Largest aircraft to operate at YLW begins service to Toronto this summer

The Boeing 767-300ER will increase seat availability for flights to Toronto by 40 per cent

B.C. budget fails to ‘excite’ Kelowna business community

Chamber says Budget 2020 lacks a clearly defined competitiveness strategy

Shuswap woman creates stress-reducing cuffs for Alzheimer’s patients

Personal connection to disease adds meaning to endeavour

Penticton MLA urges government to address fatal stretch of Hwy 97

“People are being injured and lives are being lost on this stretch of highway.” - MLA Dan Ashton

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Most Read