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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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    China Health & Science

    Annual List of China’s Best Hospitals: Ranking the Top 10 Hospitals of the Year

    These are China’s best hospitals according to the Fudan University annual ranking list.

    Manya Koetse

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    A new list with the 50 highest rated hospitals in China of the year 2019 has been released earlier this month.

    A hospital list, ranking the best hospitals in China, was released earlier this month. The list is independently issued annually since 2010 by the Hospital Management Institute of Shanghai’s Fudan University. It ranks the top 100 hospitals in China and the top 10 hospitals over various clinical specialties. In doing so, it has become one of the most important hospital rankings in China.

    The topic became trending on Weibo with over 110 million views (#复旦版中国医院排行榜#). Although there is a major interest in this topic, there are also those questioning what makes a hospital the ‘best’ hospital. This list, among other things, is based on the hospital’s reputation and its capacity to conduct scientific research.

    “What is fame and reputation? What I care about when seeing a doctor is their success rate in curing patients,” one social media user wrote – a sentiment shared by many. Others also say it is best to look for the right hospital depending on the patient’s personal needs.

    Although it is true that these rankings do not include any rates on treatment results, they are relevant to patients for their reputation and size nonetheless.

    China currently has a significant shortage of doctors, and the most qualified doctors are more prone to go to the hospitals with the best reputation. It is an ongoing cycle that has left many of the more rural and smaller hospitals lacking qualified staff. (For more about the problems facing China’s healthcare system, also see this article.)

    We will list the top 10 of China’s best hospitals according to the report here, including some basic info.

     

    #1 Peking Union Medical College Hospital
    中国医学科学院北京协和医院

    Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) has topped these rankings consecutively for 11 years. The hospital was founded in 1921 by Rockefeller Foundation and is affiliated to both Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

    PUMCH offers 2000 beds, has more than 4000 employees, and 57 clinical and medical departments. The hospital recently also launched its online services, including consultation, prescribing medicine, and electronic medical recording, which reportedly will expand to all clinical sections of the hospital.

    Weibo: @北京协和医院 (960906 followers)
    Website: link
    Address: #9 Dongdan 3rd Alley, Dongcheng, Beijing, China

     

    #2 West China Hospital Sichuan University
    四川大学华西医院

    Founded in 1872, the West China Medical Center is China’s biggest hospital in terms of size, and also ranks number two in the list of the world’s largest hospitals (no 1 being the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan). The hospital has a capacity of 4300 beds and there are 46 clinical departments.

    West China Hospital has recently been in the news a lot due to the development of its own experimental COVID19 vaccine.

    Weibo: @四川大学华西医院 (483829 followers)
    Website: link
    Address: #37 Guoxue Alley, Wuhou District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province

     

    #3 People’s Liberation Army General Hospital / 301 Hospital
    中国人民解放军总医院

    The General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAGH), also known as 301 Hospital or PLA General Hospital, is the largest general hospital under the auspices of the People’s Liberation Army. The military hospital, used by the top leadership, was founded in 1953 and has a capacity of 4000 beds.

    Earlier this year, the hospital made headlines for being the first center in Asia to provide newly advanced (ZAP) non-invasive technologies to treat brain tumors.

    Website: link
    Address: No. 28 Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing

     

    #4 Ruijin Hospital
    上海交通大学医学院附属瑞金医院

    Ruijin Hospital, formally known as Guangci Hospital, was founded in 1907. The hospital has 34 clinical departments, with a capacity of 1774 beds and a staff of over 3300.

    The hospital is known for the rescue of burn victim Qiu Caikang, an iron worker of Shanghai Steel Factory who was burnt by molten steel in 1958. Although he suffered extensive burns to 89% of his body – and was thought unlikely to survive -, the staff at the hospital were able to successfully treat him. The hospital’s technologies in treatment of deep burns has since been renowned throughout the country.

    Website: link
    Address: 197, Rui Jin Er Road,Shanghai 

     

    #5 Zhongshan Hospital Fudan University
    复旦大学附属中山医院

    This Shanghai hospital, which opened in 1937, is a major teaching hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University. It was the first large-scale general hospital managed by Chinese people at its time of opening.

    Zhongshan Hospital is leading in China when it comes to the treatment of heart, kidney, and diseases, and liver cancer. The hospital has over 1900 beds and more than 4000 hospital staff.

    Website: link
    Address: 180 Fenglin Road, Shanghai

     

    #6 The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University
    中山大学附属第一医院

    The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. Founded in 1910, the hospital was initially called the Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Public Institution of Medicine. It is one of the largest hospitals in China.

    The hospital is renowned for various medical specialties, including liver and kidney transplantion. The hospital has 72 clinical departments, 3523 beds, and over 6000 staff.

    Website: link
    Address: 58 Zhongshan 2nd Rd, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

     

    #7 Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
    华中科技大学同济医学院附属同济医院

    Tongji Hospital was officially founded by German doctor Erich Paulun in 1900, located in Shanghai, and did not move the Medical College to Wuhan until 1950. The hospital, which now has some 4000 beds and 7000 staff members, has 52 clinical and paramedical departments.

    During the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the hospital provided 800 beds for severe cases.

    Website: link
    Address: No.1095 Jie Fang Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan

     

    #8 Xijing Hospital
    空军军医大学西京医院

    Xijing Hospital was founded in 1939 and has since been a hospital of several ‘world’s firsts’, including being world’s first hospital to recreate a ‘4D’-printed breast for a cancer patient who underwent a mastectomy. The hospital also saw China’s first baby born from a transplanted womb.

    Xijing Hospital houses 3218 beds.

    Website: link
    Adress: No. 127 Changle West Road, Xincheng District, Xi’an

     

    #9 Huashan Hospital
    复旦大学附属华山医院

    Huashan Hospital’s main branch is located in the city center of Shanghai, in the former French Concession. The hospital was founded in 1907 as the Chinese Red Cross General Hospital by Governor Shen Dunhe, the founder of the Red Cross Society of China. The hospital opened for business in 1909.

    Besides being a general hospital with around 3000 staff members and over 1215 beds at the main branch, it is also Fudan University’s major and renowned teaching hospital. Huashan is one of the best-known hospitals in China.

    Website: link
    Address: 12 Wulumuqi Middle Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai

     

    #10 Wuhan Union Hospital
    华中科技大学同济医学院附属协和医院

    Wuhan Union Hospital has a long history; it was founded in 1866 by Griffith John, a Welsh Christian missionary and translator in China. The hospital is an active general hospital, as well as focusing on teaching and scientific research.

    The hospital has a total of 5000 beds and more than 8000 staff members. In 2020, the hospital became one of the designated hospitals to treat patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Website: link
    Address: 1277 Jiefang Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei Province

     

    By Manya Koetse

    Original photo used in featured image by Adhy Savala

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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    China Health & Science

    Rejected for Being Blind: Shaanxi Normal University Denies Female Student Braille Entrance Exam

    No exam, no entrance – this student ran into a brick wall at the famous Chinese university.

    Saga Ringmar

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    The story of a young blind woman whose application for a Chinese university’s entrance exams was rejected due to her visual disability has sparked discussion across Chinese social media.

    Last week, Shaanxi Normal University made headlines in China for rejecting a blind student from their psychology Masters program.

    Debates arose online about how universities should accommodate disabled students. The related hashtag (#盲人女孩报考陕西师大研究生遭拒#) received 41 million clicks and about 2,600 related posts on social media platform Weibo.

    According to Chinese news site The Paper, the female student named Wu Xiao (吴潇) was turned down after she tried to apply for Shaanxi Normal University’s postgraduate entrance exam. The university reportedly claimed they were not equipped to teach students with visual impairments.

    In an interview, the 24-year-old Wu Xiao said that, despite encountering obstacles, she had managed to study with non-blind students for the past four years already. As a fourth-year student of applied psychology at the Nanjing Normal University of Special Education, all she needed was a chance to take the entrance exam, but this request was denied. The university allegedly stated they could not provide a Braille version of the exam.

    Wu Xiao said she was perplexed about the rejection, especially since Shaanxi Normal University previously organized a college tour for students with physical disabilities.

    Shaanxi Normal University, located in Xi’an, is a well-known university under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education of China.

    In the news report shared by Lifeweek, a staff member at Shaanxi Normal University explained the situation, saying that psychologists need to be able to see their patients in order to treat them. Students with vision loss should therefore aim for another career, the man said.

    The university cited guidelines from 2003 issued by the Ministry of Education and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. These guidelines allow for a physical examination to affect the chances of studying a certain subject.

    According to article 3.6 of the guidelines, students with visual impairments are “unsuitable” to study psychology. Among other things, the guidelines also state that universities can reject students from studying journalism if they have a stammer or hunchback.

    On Weibo, one of the main issues discussed was whether or not Wu Xiao was right in speaking out against the university.

    Some Weibo users defended the university’s decision, arguing that nonverbal, visual communication plays a vital role in the field of psychology. There were also those saying that Wu could not demand the school to adapt to her needs.

    But there are also many social media users advocating equal opportunities and equal access for persons with disabilities. “A lot of people are acting as if she’s asking for special treatment…but she hasn’t even been able to get equal access to education,” one person commented, “It’s not her fault she can’t go to this school – it is the fault of backward universities and society.”

    Over the past few years, stories of Chinese blind people encountering ignorance and accessibility issues have been receiving more attention on social media.

    Earlier this year, a video showing the failed design of a tactile-paved path in Inner Mongolia caught the attention of web users. The tactile paving steered blind and visually impaired pedestrians straight into trees on the sidewalk. Local authorities later fixed the paths.

    Another video posted on Douyin (the Chinese version of Tiktok) in August of this year also attracted a lot of attention, receiving over 150,000 likes. The video, posted by a visually impaired blogger (@盲探-小龙蛋), showed the difficulties encountered by Chinese people with blindness or low vision when using public transportation. In Shenzhen, where the blogger lives, most buses do not have speakers announcing their direction, making it impossible for him to know which bus to take. Shenzhen has to do better if it wants to call itself a “city without hindrances” (“无障碍城市”), he argued.

    Over recent years, the Chinese government has done more to strengthen the protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in the country. Although there is a focus on the prevention of birth defects and disability – even launching a “National Disability Prevention Day” – there seems to be a lesser focus on transforming China’s social organizations to actually help those with disabilities.

    Children with visual impairments often attend specialized schools isolated from the rest of society. Only since 2015 have blind students been able to take the university entrance exam (gaokao) in Braille. According to Toutiao News, Wu Xiao was the only student in Shaanxi to take the Braille version of the gaokao.

    To promote more inclusivity for disabled citizens in the workforce, China has an employment quota system in which companies must reserve at least 1.5 percent of their positions for disabled persons, yet many companies do not meet the quota.

    On Weibo, some commenters argue that people such as Wu Xiao will continue to face discrimination in society unless something changes in the education system.  “We can only build a fair society if our education is fair,” one person writes: “Caring for the disadvantaged and giving them equal opportunities is a measure of a civilized society. We have to care for them and help them fulfill their dreams.”

    By Saga Ringmar ( follow on Twitter

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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