The US government is evacuating their diplomats and other consulate personnel in Wuhan, China, amid the growing threat of the coronavirus.
Around three dozen diplomats and their families are set to be evacuated from the city. Other countries, such as South Korea and the United Kingdom, are reportedly closing their embassies and evacuating personnel as well.
Wuhan, a city in central China, is at the center of the fight against the virus after the first case was detected there earlier this month.
The US government also raised its travel advisory in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, to Level 4, indicating that US citizens should absolutely not travel there. The virus is closely related to the SARS and MERS epidemics that were first identified in 2002 and 2012.
When asked why the US is evacuating its personnel now, despite having not done so during the SARS outbreak, a US official stated, “I think we all learned our lesson from SARS.”
Virus death toll continues to rise
The most recent reports say that 56 people in China have died due to the virus, while nearly 2,000 people have been infected.
Since the outbreak, China has put Wuhan and other nearby cities on lockdown to try and control the spread of the virus.
Planes, trains, and even private vehicle use has been severely restricted. The city has assigned some 6,000 taxis to help Wuhan residents get around the city safely during the outbreak.
Wuhan is home to an estimated 11 million people. To combat the influx of sick patients, China is already in the process of building a new 1,000-bed hospital specifically for treating quarantine patients.
The virus goes global
Besides the mainland, the Chinese government has also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan.
Although China has seen the most cases, the virus has quickly spread to other countries.
Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Canada and Australia.
On January, 23, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that while the virus is certainly cause for grave concern, it does not yet represent a global emergency due to the small number of cases outside of China.
Nevertheless, the WHO said world governments should stay on high alert.
“Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”