Linda Lew

Linda Lew

Reporter

Linda is a contributor to Inkstone. Born in China and raised in New Zealand, she is a reporter for the South China Morning Post. Previously, she freelanced for Chinese technology media site TechNode.

Location
Hong Kong
Language spoken
English, Mandarin, Cantonese
Areas of Expertise
Chinese society and culture, diplomacy and politics
China’s coronavirus censorship at home comes at a global cost
Cui Yongyuan may not be a household name in the West, but the former state media television host has almost 20 million social media followers in China, or about double those tracking the Twitter account of CNN’s Anderson Cooper in the US. Cui was one of the highest-profile bloggers on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, where he was known for his social commentary and whistle-blowing. But last year his posting stopped and in May he found that posts containing his nickname “Xiaocui” had been blocked. That same month his account on WeChat, which has 1 billion active users worldwide, was suspended citing fraud, according to screenshots he posted on Twitter. “My name is censored. Are you tryi
‘Viral sovereignty’: Why countries don’t always share virus samples
When a deadly disease breaks out and threatens the world, countries are obliged to share laboratory samples and other information to help fight it, right? Wrong. In 2007, Indonesia refused to give the World Health Organization samples of an H5N1 influenza strain from an outbreak in the country until it was guaranteed fair access to any vaccines created from the material. Welcome to the world of “viral sovereignty.” The ownership of pathogens and related data that emerge in one country is part of a long-standing debate that touches an exploitative colonial nerve: wealthy countries plundering the natural resources – including biodiversity – of poorer nations and profiting from it. With the co
Covid-19 and the Wuhan lab: What we know so far
Facing criticism for its late response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration said it is seeking to investigate claims that a Chinese laboratory leaked the pathogen and caused the global crisis. The lab has been the source of speculation, conspiracy theories and debate since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. But why has it received so much attention?  What is the Wuhan lab? The research facility under scrutiny is the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is China’s first laboratory with BSL-4 status – the highest international designation for bioresearch safety – designed for work with the deadly and easily transmittable class of pathogens known as P4.  The institute is ad
Chinese factories are rushing to make face masks. Quality is a concern
In the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, a sock manufacturer sensed an opportunity when the country was in the throes of the coronavirus epidemic in February. He decided the time was ripe to get into the business of making medical face masks. He bought a machine, even though it was not designed to make masks, and modified it to fit his needs.  The company is now producing 40,000 to 50,000 masks a day. But the manufacturer said he’s afraid to invest more as the mask market in China is “chaotic.” He declined to be named. Mask making has become a booming industry in China as countries around the world scramble to source supplies of personal protective equipment, both for civilians and for
Only 6% of coronavirus infections are detected, German study says
A study suggests that the vast majority of people infected by the coronavirus remain undetected, raising the specter of fresh outbreaks if social distancing measures and travel restrictions are lifted too early. Researchers of the study, from the University of Gottingen in Germany, said only 6% of coronavirus infections had been detected across the 40 countries they analyzed. The researchers made the assessment after comparing estimates of coronavirus infection fatality rates in a previous study with the number of confirmed cases reported by the countries, including Italy, Spain, the United States and France. The researchers concluded that the only way to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-
What we know about coronavirus immunity
Developing immunity to the coronavirus is key to getting the world back to some semblance of normal.  There is a lot we don’t know about Sars-CoV-2 — the virus that causes a disease known as Covid-19. The virus’s genetic makeup was only identified in January, so researchers are still studying humans’ immune response to it.  Here’s what we know so far, according to scientists. How is immunity to the virus developed?  Most of our information on immunity to Sars-CoV-2 has been borrowed from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) outbreaks, said to Ashley St John, an immunologist from Duke and National University of Singapore’s medical school.  S
The coronavirus crisis is a human failure, says author of ‘Sapiens’
While most people alive today have never experienced an event like the coronavirus pandemic, it is not the first time humanity has come face to face with a global contagion. Historian Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, answers questions from the South China Morning Post on how the coronavirus pandemic poses unprecedented challenges in biometric surveillance, governance and global cooperation. He also proposes five steps the world should take moving forward. Q: You wrote “if we are indeed bringing famine, plague and war under control …” in Homo Deus. Given that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated, do you still believe mankind has largely reined in plagu
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
‘Fearlessly naive’ coronavirus vaccine volunteers recount experience
There may have been diarrhea, high temperatures and a fair bit of apprehension, but 108 people from Wuhan can proudly say they became the first in the country to be injected with a possible vaccine for the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The trials got underway in the central Chinese city, where the virus first emerged, on Thursday. They started just three days after CanSino Biologics – the pharmaceutical company that developed the product in cooperation with the Chinese military – was given the green light by Beijing. According to information published on China’s clinical trial registry, the volunteers – aged from 18 to 60 and in good health – were divided into three groups of 36 and then gi
Coronavirus patients are contagious 2 days before symptoms show, study suggests
People infected with the new coronavirus may be most contagious right when their symptoms begin to show and even a couple of days beforehand. Scholars observed the highest viral load in throat swabs at the initial sign of symptoms and inferred that infectiousness peaked on or before symptom onset, and people may be highly contagious 2.5 days before symptoms show. It is a pattern similar to that of seasonal influenza. The findings set the new coronavirus apart from the Sars virus, which becomes most infectious 10 to 12 days after the onset of symptoms. Estimating that 44% of transmissions could take place before symptoms develop in an infected person, the research underscores the capability o