At the end of December 2019, the Chinese government announced the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Health officials believe the virus outbreak originated in a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan. As the number of infections and deaths has been increasing lately, the Chinese government decided to take more severe measures and closed the city of Wuhan and the nearby city of Huangguang from incoming and outgoing traffic and air flights to try and prevent further circulation of the virus.
According to a fruit trader in Wuhan, the situation there is stable, as he mentioned: “The city is indeed closed down, but we as citizens can understand that. We also take extra measures ourselves, as we stay more inside and not unnecessarily go out. Furthermore, every time we go out, we will wear face-masks to prevent ourselves from spreading or receiving the virus.”
“The place where the virus potentially broke out is closed; this was the seafood market in the Wuhan wholesale market. Other wholesale markets still operate as usual. For example the fruits and vegetable market. Even though the city is now closed down, there were already orders for the Chinese new year, so there is still sufficient supply and business can go on. However, it is clear that the last few days sales have slowed down.”
The Chinese New Year will start today, a busy period for Chinese people, most of them traveling back to their hometown to reunite with their family members to celebrate the new year. This therefore also worries most people, because with all the traveling, the chance to further spread the virus will become even bigger. As a reaction, therefore, the Chinese government decided to cancel the new year activities in Beijing that were planned for today.
How the virus will further develop and how fast it can be stopped is unclear, this further feeds the unease people have about this virus. Everyone wants to prevent getting the virus and therefore most face-masks are quickly sold out in shops. A company from Beijing that will participate in the Fruit Logistica in Berlin in a few weeks said: “We will still come to the exhibition. We are just extra careful and take extra measures.”
A visit to promote the second Urban Greenhouse Challenge from the Wageningen University & Research department at the end of February, has now been postponed. The first round of the challenge was finalized on 14th of January, and 20 teams were selected for the second round. During the second round of the competition, representatives of the 20 selected teams were to visit the site in China, though now with the outbreak of the coronavirus the university decided to postpone and it is unclear when it will be resumed.
Another Chinese company from the horticultural industry said, we planned to take the holiday break to go to the Netherlands, visiting some of our Dutch cooperation partners, but now we've decided to cancel. We think it is better to stay at home and avoid visiting people in the surrounding areas.