A family from Highland, Indiana is vacationing in the middle of a country on high alert, as Ken Zurek, his wife and their family are in Chongqing, China, about 500 miles from where the deadly coronavirus was first reported.
“Most everyone is wearing a mask right now to prevent further outbreak,” Zurek told NBC 5 through a Facetime call Thursday. “The big concern here for everybody is we are not certain if this is airborne or if it’s human contact.”
The outbreak couldn’t come at a worse time for the Chinese, as Saturday marks the start of the Lunar New Year. It's a time of year when travel, entertaining and celebrating are at an all-time high.
“This is the biggest time of the year for the Chinese people,” Zurek explained. “It's the Super Bowl of holidays for them.”
The coronavirus was first reported in the city of Wuhan, where public transportation is temporarily closed and all inbound and outbound flights and trains are cancelled.
NBC News reports more than 640 people have been sickened and 17 are dead since the first of the month.
The Chinese government is warning people to take precautions.
“Every time we do step out, when we come back we make sure we change our clothes and take a shower right away so we don’t spread any of the virus inside the house here,” Zurek said.
The World Health Organization said Thursday it is too early to declare this a global crisis, but in China it is considered an emergency.