U.S. State Department issues "Do Not Travel" advisory for China

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/30/u-s-state-department-issues.html


U.S. State Department issues “Do Not Travel” advisory for China

Way to go tRump Co. Better late than never…


This seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? It appears to be a more virulent respiratory flu, but it’s still only caused deaths in the hundreds and infections in the thousands in a country of 1.4 billion.

Practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask if you’re starting to feel ill, and get your vaccines (both the current flu shot and a new one when they develop it) but closing off an entire country sounds more like it’s being driven more by xenophobia and paranoia than actual medical science.

That and their M.O. often is: show up late, needlessly amp up the fear, claim victory even though they’ve done nothing helpful, and whine about not getting credit.


This all about Trump sticking it to the Chinese, and using a politically convenient current event as an excuse. I think we all know how that works.

Personally, I would travel to China even now, though I’d take precautions that have nothing to do with coronavirus and everything to do with digital security.

1 Like

Uh, maybe both, wouldn’t be a bad idea?

1 Like

You would be foolish to travel to China right now. The country has shutdown because of this. The Chinese people chose to shutdown because of how dire the situation is. They have lived through epidemics before and know when it’s time to huddle in homes.

So what is it that makes the situation so dire? It seems that mortality and likelihood of infection of the Corona Virus are similar to a usual flu epidemic. Not that the flu is harmless, but I don’t understand what it is about the Corona Virus that ostensibly makes it into such an emergency. Can someone explain?

1 Like

It seems to be higher on the mortality and somewhat higher spread than regular flu, not trumpeted headlines, but meaningfully higher. When both sides are a little worse and any vaccine development is several years off you’re looking at the potential for tens of thousands of deaths, on top of our normal flu cycle. The panic is a combination of the novelty, the slightly worse stats, and knowledge that meaningful treatment is a long way off. If it was a well contained outbreak with those stats it wouldn’t really matter, but given that it seems people are contagious before they have a fever and it really surfaced in a major city during a busy travel season, we’re in the other boat.


Flu mortality is about 0.142%, current rates on the new virus are about 2%.

So it is an order of magnitude more deadly. That is a big deal (note there are a lot of issues determining mortality rates this early in a pandemic, 2% could be high or low, lots of the current infected are in an early stage of the disease and are likely to die, that will being the number up, many who had mild cases didn’t realize it wasn’t a normal flu and are not currently counted as survivors…so 2% really is subject to change, but probably not by 10x)

We aren’t sure about basically anything about it’s communicability. It could be better or worse then a normal flu in that regard.

1 Like

I don’t think any medical professional is suggesting this will significantly alter the world’s population or anything like that. From the medical perspective, even a few hundred preventable deaths is a serious problem. A 20% surge in demand for hospital beds in an area would require urgent special planning. But that’s nowhere near what the general public would call an “emergency”.

Only, the news doesn’t have a setting for that. Either we don’t hear about it at all, or it’s The Andromeda Strain. Those are the two options. They won’t say we’re all going to die (because we aren’t), but editors know what audiences will feel when they see death-toll headlines updated twice a day. And they’re not going to leave that giant pile of clickbait gold on the table.

So the public sentiment is that we’re facing extinction, and what is true in public sentiment is true in politics, so governments have to be seen treating this like the end of the world. Naturally, if they have to put on that show, they’ll find ways to make it serve their own interests at the same time. I’m actually surprised the Turmp regime didn’t advise that if you buy a MacBook, you should wash it in bleach before using it. Maybe that’s next week.


According to what I read, flu mortality has varied between 0.2 and 2.5% in the past. But I’m not knowledgeable on the subject so I can’t judge the plausibility of these numbers.

I don’t think the mortality varies greatly for a specific flu…but I could be wrong on that.

The highest mortality rate (so far) from a flu was the Spanish Flu (pro-tip when refreshing your recollection, do not google for “Spanish fly”, that is a whole other thing). Also known as the 1918 flu. It had a mortality rate from 5% to 10% & is believed by some to be the actual cause of the end of WW1 (although it probably just hastened it).

So as far as I know we aren’t facing that. Or modern medicine can significantly reduce the mortality rate. Which is good as long as the medical care can keep up with the rate of infection.

Stay safe out there people.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.