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The Debate

Fear of contagion: Coronavirus toll rises ahead of Chinese New Year travel

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE © FRANCE 24

As China, the world's most populous nation, embarks on its biggest travel week of the year, the first coronavirus case has reached the United States and the World Health Organization is scrambling. Chinese authorities are screening travellers and issuing updates, but critics on social media wonder if Beijing was fast enough off the mark? We ask our panel if China has got this under control as the outbreak, thought to have originated in a fish and livestock market in the central city of Wuhan, brings back bad memories.

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Those memories are of the SARS epidemic that left nearly 800 dead in 2003 with the virus also spreading around the time of Chinese New Year. The difference today is a nation where citizens travel much more, with many electing to go abroad for the holidays. 

Finally, if it's already a problem gone global, how do worldwide authorities like the UN's World Health Organization measure their response? In the age of globalisation, how do authorities avoid scaremongering and overreacting while doing what it takes to stave off the worst?

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain, Jimena Morales-Velasco and Marion Lefevre.

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