(TibetanReview.net, Feb14’20) – Covid-19, the mysterious flu-like respiratory illness that has wracked eastern China and put the rest of the world on emergency alert, is creeping into the Tibetan Plateau region, reported glacierhub.org Feb 13. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that westernmost provinces of the People’s Republic of China of Xinjiang, Tibet and Qinghai collectively had 78 confirmed cases so far—up from 27 at the start of February.
Thus, there has been a slow uptick in infections in recent days, and the weak public health infrastructure in these poor regions could worsen the pandemic, the report noted.
It said Sichuan province, which includes the easternmost portion of the Tibetan plateau, had 436 confirmed infections.
The report noted, as stated by China’s official media too previously, that the biggest worry in the western provinces was containing the virus’s spread. While this is a concern across all of the PRC—and of any country during an outbreak— it carries extra weight in the remote mountainous regions where public health infrastructure is poor and ill-equipped to deal with a large epidemic. In villages and towns scattered across the rugged terrain of the Tibetan plateau, proper hospitals or clinics are hard to come by.
The report added that in Qinghai and the Tibetan parts of Sichuan, roads between counties had been closed and checkpoints between townships had sprung up. Many businesses were shuttered and people had been encouraged to stay home. Villages had largely isolated themselves from the outside.
These places aren’t technically on lock-down but it is very far from business as usual,” Gerald Roche, an anthropologist from La Trobe University in Australia, was quoted as saying.