Lunar New Year kicked off last week as millions of Chinese people left the cities they live for the homes they grew up in. For many, their trips coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus, an epidemic that the government has responded to with intense travel restrictions in Wuhan, the city of 11 million, that’s ground zero for a disease that’s killed more than 100 people.

The intensity of the quarantine has raised questions from outside observers like Emory University School of Medicine microbiologist Elaine Burd, who worry about the unintended consequences of the government’s move. As the government has “essentially ordered” the people in Wuhan to wear protective gear, it’s caused a shortage of equipment for those actually treating patients, she says.

“The biggest problem is that health care workers, who are taking care of sick patients, don't have enough protective gear, and this puts them at greater risk of catching the virus while they're taking care of patients,” said Burd. “From reports that I've seen, that seems to have created some panic among the group we call the ‘worried well.’ These people without symptoms but now don't have access to the protective equipment that the local government and public health officials said they should have. And so they feel vulnerable, maybe excessively vulnerable. So I think all of that really, it can create chaos.”

Burd joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and CEO and president Tim Dalrymple about what people should know about the coronavirus, God’s call for her to become a microbiologist, and how her experiences working with an Ebola patient inform how she understands China’s ...

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