Josephine Ma

Josephine Ma

Josephine is a contributor to Inkstone. She is China editor-at-large for the South China Morning Post.

At least 59% of coronavirus cases went unreported in Wuhan, study says
Around 60% of people who contracted the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan were asymptomatic or very mild cases not reported to the authorities, according to a study led by a group of Chinese researchers. The paper suggests that by February 18 the total number of infections in Wuhan, the first epicenter of the coronavirus, could have exceeded 125,000, more than three times the number of confirmed cases, 38,020, reported at the time. The estimate adds to a body of research seeking to estimate the true extent of the spread of coronavirus beyond counting patients with clear symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The study, conducted by researchers from Huazh
Scientists across the world are racing to find existing drugs that can treat Covid-19
Developing a new drug usually takes years, but scientists are racing against that clock to repurpose existing medications or pre-approved substances to manufacture an antiviral drug to battle Covid-19. As the coronavirus pandemic hit more countries around the world, and death tolls rose, the World Health Organization identified four medications last week and started a global trial. The trial is known as Solidarity. Two of the potential medications are drug cocktails. The non-cocktail treatments center around remdesivir, which was originally designed for treating Ebola, and the antimalaria drug chloroquine. One cocktail is a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir. The other co
WHO says silent spread of coronavirus ‘extremely rare.’ Classified data from China suggests otherwise
The number of “silent carriers” – people who are infected by the new coronavirus but show delayed or no symptoms – could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, according to classified Chinese government data seen by the South China Morning Post. That could further complicate the strategies being used by countries to contain the virus, which has infected more than 340,000 people and killed more than 14,000 globally. More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition typically known as asymptomatic, according to the data. They were placed in quarantine and monitored but were not included in the offici
Chinese documents give new clues to when coronavirus started spreading
The first case of someone in China suffering from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, can be traced back to November 17, according to government data seen by the South China Morning Post. The finding suggests that the first case of the illness was dated two to three weeks earlier than the first confirmed Covid-19 case recognized by the World Health Organization and some researchers. China first alerted the WHO to cases of the then-unknown disease on December 31. Interviews with whistle-blowers from the medical community suggest Chinese doctors only realized they were dealing with a new disease in late December. Several Chinese medical professionals have accused the authoriti
Scientists are racing to make a coronavirus vaccine. Is it worth it?
Seventeen years after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak, and seven years since the first Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) case, there is still no coronavirus vaccine despite dozens of attempts to develop them. As research institutes and companies around the world race to find potential vaccines for a new coronavirus strain that has infected more than 80,000 people and claimed over 2,700 lives, the question is, will this time be different? To stop communicable diseases, it is important to stop transmission, using medicine and developing vaccines. But those vaccines take time as they have to go through trials to ensure they are safe and effective. They are also costl
Hundreds of Chinese medical staff infected with coronavirus
At least 500 hospital staff in Wuhan, the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak, had been infected with the deadly new strain of coronavirus as early as mid-January, multiple medical sources have confirmed. The large number of doctors and nurses infected by the virus has reflected the dire situation in Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated. Hospitals have been overwhelmed by the growing number of patients.  The Chinese government has yet to disclose the number of infected medical professionals, although it has reported individual cases of doctors or nurses becoming sick.  The sources said doctors and nurses had been told not to make the information public.  The reason for th
Pompeo calls Chinese Communist Party ‘central threat of our times’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s ruling party the “central threat of our times,” as he sought to convince allies to push back against Beijing’s growing influence. The top American diplomat made the declaration in London after the United Kingdom defied US pressure in approving limited use of Huawei equipment in its next-generation, or 5G, wireless network. The Trump administration has called on its European allies to join the United States in banning the Chinese telecoms giant, accusing the company of being a security threat. Western allies must “ensure that the next century is governed by … Western democratic principles,” Pompeo said during a joint appearance with British For
‘Complicated and grave’ coronavirus outbreak may be bigger than Sars
China is facing a larger epidemic than Sars, with the number of Wuhan coronavirus infections in the mainland surpassing the tally of severe acute respiratory syndrome cases it saw during the 2002-03 outbreak. And as the pneumonia-like illness, also known as the novel coronavirus, continues to spread six days after authorities took the unprecedented step of locking down Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the outbreak, more cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported outside China. Meanwhile, the only region in China that had yet to be affected, Tibet, reported a suspected case, and Sichuan reported its first death from the virus – the seventh province outside Hu
Tiananmen Square crackdown: the cost of denial
When You Weijie’s husband was killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the only official acknowledgment she received was a small cash payment from her work unit. Her husband, Yang Minghu, was an office worker. He was sympathetic to the pro-democracy protesters and went to check on their safety on June 4. He was caught in gunfire on a Beijing street as the military advanced to the square to enforce martial law. He was 42. You received 800 yuan ($115) as compensation for her loss of her husband, but she returned it. “I couldn’t use the money. I felt that this is a person’s life, this is the price of a human’s life,” she said. Now 65, what she wants is an open investigation into what hap
Farming and calligraphy: what China’s fallen political elite do behind bars
Former security tsar Zhou Yongkang was once one of China’s most powerful men. Now, he grows fruit and vegetables inside the “tigers’ cage” – the country’s infamous maximum security jail for fallen political elites. Disgraced Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and his former police chief Wang Lijun, who were at the center of the country’s biggest political scandal in recent years, do not cross paths at the prison but apparently share the same hobby: calligraphy. More than 1.3 million Chinese officials – from the elite “tigers” to the ordinary “flies” – have been snared since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012 and began an unprecedented graft-busting campaign. And most of the “big tigers” lik