“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

Two-way race in NDP nomination for Boundary-Similkameen, party confirms

The results of the online contest will likely be announced Thursday afternoon, Sept. 24

Veintimilla to run as Liberal candidate

The Oliver councillor will run for MLA of the Boundary-Similkameen riding

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Mayor Taylor to ask Grand Forks council to develop Bare Ass Beach

Taylor says making the beach more accessible to public will discourage future trespassers

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read