Saturday, 8 February 2020


Hangzhou, a Chinese city with a population of 10 million, said it would temporarily ban the sale of flu and cough medicine at pharmacies, in an effort to compel people who might be sick to see a doctor.

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 5, 2020
    • How is the United States being affected?
      There have been at least a dozen cases. American citizens and permanent residents who fly to the United States from China are now subject to a two-week quarantine.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      Several countries, including the United States, have discouraged travel to China, and several airlines have canceled flights. Many travelers have been left in limbo while looking to change or cancel bookings.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do.

In a statement, which was issued at midnight Friday and took effect immediately, the local government said the policy was created to “strengthen the supervision of those with fevers and coughs.”
To stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have taken increasingly draconian measures to curb travel, impose social distancing and track those who might be sick. Several cities in the eastern province of Zhejiang, including some sections of Hangzhou, have set limits on how often people can leave their houses, generally allowing one person to leave every few days to buy groceries. Paper passports have been printed to keep tabs on residents.
As such restrictions have increased, so have people’s fears about being suspected to have the virus. Some have complained that hotels set up for quarantines do little to separate people who are already sick from those who have no symptoms, but who are from an area that experienced an outbreak. In recent weeks, several articles in Chinese news media have told of people who used medicine to suppress coronavirus symptoms in order to get through the country’s now ubiquitous fever-screening checkpoints.
Online, many people vented frustration about Hangzhou’s ban on medicine sales, though some said it was a good way to identify cases of the coronavirus that otherwise might not surface.
“Good, I strongly support this,” wrote one user, calling for the elimination of “every possible loophole that could spread the virus.”
Some wondered what those with chronic illnesses were supposed to do if they couldn’t get medicine they needed to relieve their symptoms. Others worried that the policy would speed the spread of the virus by forcing many more people to go to hospitals, where some carriers of the virus would likely be. Many have been alarmed by images from Wuhan of packed hospital waiting areas.
“Going to the hospital for a regular cold?” wrote one skeptical user. “What if you go to the hospital and get infected?”

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