China, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe, is now host to a new deadly, if ancient, disease: the bubonic plague.
Following an outbreak, the Chinese government has ordered a strict lockdown on a village in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.
This is the second time in two months that China has reported an outbreak of the bubonic plague. In July, a case was discovered in the city of Bayannur, located to the northwest of Beijing.
The bubonic plague, which repeatedly ravaged Asia and Europe in the Middle Ages, broke out in Baotou city last Sunday.
Government authorities ordered the lockdown on the entire village of Suji Xincun after the first death was reported to health officials in nearby Baotou city over the weekend.
“The death was reported to health authorities in Baotou city on Sunday and the victim was confirmed to be a bubonic plague patient on Thursday, the Baotou Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on its website,” reported CNN on Friday.
The government has ordered that homes be disinfected daily, and dozens of the village’s residents have been quarantined to contain the spread.
The centuries-old bubonic plague is mainly spread by fleas from small animals, as well as exposure to the body fluids of dead animals. Believed to be the cause of the Black Death, research shows that a pneumonic form of the disease can also be transmitted between humans by coughing or sneezing.
Regarding the pneumonic plague, the CDC states that “this type of spread has not been documented in the United States since 1924, but still occurs with some frequency in developing countries.”
Although treatable with commonly available antibiotics like penicillin, the disease is considered by the CDC to be a “very serious illness” and those who do not find early medical care are unlikely to recover.
China has proven itself to be an unreliable actor when it comes to containing deadly illnesses. Following the outbreak of COVID-19 this year, China has come under increasing scrutiny for its handling of diseases, some of which have been traced to the country’s wet markets.
To date, the country has refused to shut them down. Its supporters in the West, which includes journalists, have accused critics of “Sinophobia” for raising the issue.