Feb 21, 2020
SHANGHAI, CHINA – USA Rice contractor staff in country worked from home for the last several weeks to avoid interpersonal contact due to the coronavirus outbreak. This week they began alternating staff office attendance to minimize public exposure but still be able to carry out essential tasks.
Deemed more pervasive and deadly than the SARS virus (also a form of coronavirus) outbreak in 2002-2003 that originated in China’s Guangdong province and contributed to a reported 774 deaths worldwide, the new epidemic started in the country’s Hubei province and is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in China. More than 72,400 people have become infected.
Several deaths have occurred outside China, although the virus has been reported to have infected people in more than 25 counties worldwide.
The good news is the infection rate appears to have slowed due in part to the Chinese government taking aggressive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including suspension of travel from Wuhan City and the halting of all public transportation. Some of the more draconian preventive measures have included reported door-to-door home searches for people potentially infected with the virus, and placing the sick into massive, makeshift quarantine camps around the city.
“The next scheduled promotional event in China is the SIAL trade show on May 13-15, and so far the organizers have not announced any plans to postpone, cancel, or take other actions that would affect staging of the show,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asian promotion programs. “USA Rice has reserved and paid for space at SIAL, and currently plans to participate if the coronavirus epidemic appears to be under control by then.”
To date, this coronavirus outbreak has not affected USA Rice promotion programs in other countries in Asia.
“The Food & Hotel Asia Exhibition to be held at the Singapore Expo from March 31 to April 3 has been postponed,” said Guinn. USA Rice had reserved and paid for space at the regional show that attracts attendees from all over Southeast Asia. All other USA Rice promotions programs in Asia are still on schedule.
“The coronavirus outbreak may have a huge negative effect on the economies of both China and Hong Kong, but for now the human toll is the greater concern,” concluded Guinn.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention put the overall death rate for the virus at 2.3 percent. The season's flu death rate in the U.S. thus far is about 0.1 percent, according to the U.S. CDC, which gives an indication of the lethality of the disease.