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Death toll hits 56 as Xi declares virus a ‘grave’ threat

Death toll hits 56 as Xi declares virus a ‘grave’ threat

WORLD: China today (Jan 26) expanded drastic travel restrictions to contain a viral contagion that President Xi Jinping said posed a “grave” threat, as the death toll reached 56 and Shanghai reported its first fatality.


Sunday 26 January 2020, 11:50AM

China has locked down the worst-hit province of Hubei in the country’s centre in a massive quarantine affecting tens of millions of people to slow the spread of a respiratory illness that has killed 56 people and infected almost 2,000.

The virus has also spread around the world, with cases confirmed in around a dozen other countries as distant as France, Australia and the United States, the latter reporting its second case yesterday (Jan 25); Canada reported its first confirmed case yesterday.

Five cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong where Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the outbreak an emergency and stated that all primary and secondary schools would be closed for an additional two weeks after the new year holiday.

29 cities and provinces in China have been affected. In the epicentre city of Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, new restrictions went into effect today banning most cars from the streets of the metropolis of 11 million.

The normally bustling streets of Wuhan were deserted this morning, with staff at a hotel telling AFP they had to walk to work.

Authorities have also started to curtail travel in other parts of the country.

Long-distance bus services entering and leaving Beijing, the capital of 20 million, were suspended on Sunday.

The neighbouring northern city of Tianjin, with a population 15 million, announced it would follow suit on Monday.

Overseas Chinese tour groups will be suspended from tomorrow (Jan 27) while domestic trips have already been halted since Friday (Jan 24).

The nationwide death toll rose to 56 after 15 new deaths, most in Hubei.

In a worrying sign for containment efforts, the country’s financial hub Shanghai this morning reported its first death from the virus - an 88-year-old man with pre-existing health problems.

The death was the first reported in a major city outside of Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated in a seafood and live animal market.

The government has said most of the fatalities involved people already weakened by pre-existing health conditions.

Fearing a repeat of the deadly SARS epidemic of 2002-03, China has dramatically scaled back celebrations and travel associated with the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which began on Friday, to prevent large gatherings of people.


Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the situation that China was “faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread” of the virus.

Pop-up hospitals

China’s military has dispatched 450 medics, many with experience combating infectious diseases, to help treat patients in Wuhan, where hospitals are overwhelmed and medical supplies like goggles and masks running low.

Yesterday, when they should have been celebrating Lunar New Year’s Day, people waiting at one Wuhan hospital complained bitterly.

“It takes at least five hours to see a doctor,” one woman, who didn’t want to be named, told AFP.

One man in his 30s said some people had to queue for two days. Many people brought their own chairs.

Wuhan is racing to build two makeshift field hospitals within a fortnight to add hundreds of beds. Work on the first facility began Friday and could be ready in just over a week, according to state media.

Yesterday, police manning a roadblock on the city’s outskirts turned away a handful of vehicles trying to exit Wuhan.

“Nobody can leave,” an officer told AFP.

But some foreigners may soon be on the way out, with France's government and the French carmaker PSA - which has a sizable presence in Wuhan - formulating plans to evacuate staff and relatives.

Those people are expected to face a quarantine period in another Chinese city.

China’s National Health Commission has ordered nationwide measures to detect and isolate people carrying the virus on planes, trains and buses across the country.

The crisis has seen public attractions such as Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and a section of the Great Wall closed as a precaution.

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Capt B | 27 January 2020 - 09:05:53

"Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking Uni 1st Hospital, Beijing infected. His doctor recommended he take the HIV Drugs to fight the new virus and they worked on him." 
Time to place a LMT Sell Order on 30% my ABBV Shares for 100% gain. God Bless Donald Trump.

Capt B | 27 January 2020 - 08:54:05

A total 100% lockdown of all flights originating from Communist China & Hong Kong will come far too late. Many people will die.
A clinical trial is under way using AbbVie Inc. [ABBV]'s Ritonavir & Lopinavir (HIV drugs} to treat cases of the new coronavirus. 

Kurt | 26 January 2020 - 12:44:10

Well, with now more than 60 million people locked down in China, Phuket airport chief not has any longer to scratch his head, or wait for 'orders' from Bangkok, or flights will resume on nr 29 as he mentioned to Phuket press a few days ago when lock down was still on 32 million. That is clear.

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