“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

A mature Garry oak fell onto Richmond Road on Oct. 13 near Camosun College Lansdowne campus. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Garry oak crashes down onto Richmond Road

Saanich responded to 59 tree-related calls

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

The Kildonan mansion at 931 Foul Bay Rd. is part of the Oak Bay heritage registry. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay declines Kildonan House permissive tax exemption

Council briefs include new transformer for Oak Bay Rec., strata policy

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

The Saanich Teachers’ Association is calling on the local provincial election candidates from all parties to commit to making schools healthier and safer for all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich teachers call on election candidates for improved health, safety in schools

Increased funding, reduced class sizes among required changes, says association president

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read