‘Nothing to worry about Hanta virus,’ like Coronavirus, China may be trying to hide another deadly disease

The world must be cautious

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China doesn’t seem to be in a mood to let the world off the hook. At a time when the world is collectively scrambling to contain the Wuhan virus, China has now reported an entirely new form of virus — Hantavirus. A man from China’s Yunnan province succumbed to the virus while on a bus and it is believed that the virus is spread mainly from rodents.

The Chinese government’s official mouthpiece, Global Times sent the world into a frenzy as they reported yet another deadly virus. According to the US based Centre for Disease Control, the virus mainly originates from rodents. According to its website, “Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).”

Currently, the virus is present in rats in China which of course, are consumed are abundantly available in the country’s wet markets. The diseases spreads when someone comes in close contact with rodent urine, saliva and droppings. Worryingly, the CDC claims that the disease can be transmitted if someone breathes in contaminated air. 

The symptoms of Hantavirus mirror those of Influenza which include include fever, muscle ache, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. At present, there is no vaccine for Hantavirus. Unlike the Wuhan virus, Hantavirus is highly fatal and has a mortality rate of 38%.

As usual, China has said that it is nothing to worry about the Hantavirus and claimed that they are familiar with it and the possibility of human-to-human transmission is extremely rare. However, when cases with the novel coronavirus came out, it was suspected to be SARS, a coronavirus that China is familiar with given the epidemic in 2003 (fun-fact, it also originated in wet-market, like the Wuhan Virus), but for long, authorities stressed that it was just a pneumonia with strong symptoms. China looked to downplay the coronavirus and hoodwink the world for as long as it could.

When it came to establishing whether human-to-human transmission was taking place with COVID-19, the Chinese government ignored the warnings of Dr Wenliang and Taiwan which came as early as December.

Chinese doctor Wenliang was one of the first whistleblower to raise the alarm over coronavirus but the Communist party true to its characteristics, muzzled his concerns. When Wenliang on December 30, sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection, four days later he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. 

In the letter, he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”. He was one of eight people who police said were being investigated for “spreading rumours”. Local authorities later apologised to Dr Li. In his Weibo post he describes how on 10 January he started coughing, the next day he had a fever and two days later he was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with the Coronavirus on 30 January and succumbed to the virus in February. Recently, Dr Wenliang had been exonerated of all charges by the Chinese government. 

It was not only the Chinese whistleblowers, but also countries like Taiwan who warned the WHO. Taiwan was one of the countries to wake up to the threat of the Wuhan virus and it alerted WHO on Dec. 31 to human-to-human transmission by detailing how Wuhan medical staff were getting ill. However, the WHO was in bed with the Chinese government and refused to entertain Taiwan’s concerns.

In fact, The WHO on January 14 took to Twitter to claim that there is no clear evidence of human to human transmission of the novel coronavirus — a stand endorsed by the Xi Jinping government at that time.

While China continues to claim that there is nothing to worry about, if the past few months has taught us anything, the world should tread with utmost caution when it comes to virus’ originating from China.