As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China has announced a
temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence
permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per
week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.
The new coronavirus is thought to
have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that “conducted illegal
transactions of wild animals”.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents have
been shut off from the rest of the world since the middle of January, with
roadblocks around the outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.
However, roads reopened to incoming traffic late on March 27, according to
State media said the subway was open from March 28 and trains would be able
to arrive at the city’s 17 railway stations.
All arrivals in Wuhan have to show a green code on a mobile app to prove
that they are healthy.
Officials say restrictions on people leaving Wuhan will be lifted on April 8,
when domestic flights are also expected to restart.
The new coronavirus emerged in China in December 2019 and more than 3,300
people there have died from the infection – but both Italy and Spain now have
higher death tolls.
It is now battling to control a wave of imported cases as infections soar
This so-called “second wave” of imported infections is also
affecting countries like South Korea and Singapore, which had been successful
in stopping the spread of disease in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to
spread rapidly in other countries around the world.
Nearly 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and almost 28,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.
Chinese health officials have released the first details of more than 44,000 cases of new coronavirus, Covid-19, in the largest study since the outbreak began.
Data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) finds
that more than 80% of the cases have been mild, with the sick and elderly most
The research also points to the high risk to medical staff.
On February 18, a hospital director in the city of Wuhan died from the virus.
Liu Zhiming, 51, was the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan – one of
the leading hospitals in the virus epicenter. He is one of the most senior
health officials to die so far.
Hubei, whose capital is Wuhan, is the worst affected province in China.
The report by the CCDC shows the
province’s death rate is 2.9% compared with 0.4% in the rest of the country.
The findings put the overall death
rate of the coronavirus at 2.3%.
China’s latest official figures
released on February 18 put the overall death toll at 1,868 and 72,436
Officials reported 98 new deaths and
1,886 new cases in the past day, with 93 of those deaths and 1,807 infections in
Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak.
According to Chinese authorities, more
than 12,000 people have recovered.
The study, published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology on
February 17, looked at more than 44,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in China as
of February 11.
While the results largely confirm previous descriptions of the virus and
patterns of infection, the study includes a detailed breakdown of the 44,672
confirmed cases across all of China.
The study finds that 80.9% of infections are classified as mild, 13.8% as
severe and only 4.7% as critical. The number of deaths among those infected,
known as the fatality rate, remains low but rises among those over 80 years
Looking at the sex ratio, men are more likely to die (2.8%) than women
The research also identifies which existing illnesses put patients at risk.
It puts cardiovascular disease at number one, followed by diabetes, chronic
respiratory disease and hypertension.
Pointing out the risk to medical staff, the study says that a total of
3,019 health workers have been infected, 1,716 of which were
confirmed cases. Five had died by February 11, which was the last day of
data included in the research.
On February 13, China broadened its definition of how to diagnose people,
including “clinically diagnosed cases” which previously were counted
separate from “confirmed cases”.
Looking forward, the study finds that
“the epidemic curve of onset of symptoms”
peaked around January 23-26 before declining up to February 11.
It suggests that the downward trend in the overall
epidemic curve could mean that “isolation of whole
cities, broadcast of critical information (e.g., promoting hand
washing, mask wearing, and care seeking) with high frequency through
multiple channels, and mobilization of a multi-sector rapid
response teams is helping to curb the epidemic”.
The authors also warn that with many people returning from a long holiday,
the country “needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic”.
China’s response to the new coronavirus has seen the lockdown of Wuhan – the largest city in Hubei – and the rest of the province as well as severe travel restrictions on movements across the country.
In a public statement on January 31, Health Secretary Alex Azar said US
citizens returning from Hubei province would face 14 days of quarantine while
those returning from other parts of China would be allowed to monitor their own
condition for a similar period.
He told reporters: “Following the
World Health Organization decision, I have today declared that the coronavirus
represents a public health emergency in the United States.”
Citing the need to relieve pressure
on authorities, Alex Azar said that foreign nationals who had travelled in
China in the past two weeks would be denied entry to the US.
He added: “The risk of infection for Americans remains low and with these,
and our previous, actions we are working to keep the risk low.”
Another confirmed case in the US on
January 31 – in California – brought the number there to seven. Robert
Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
said 191 people were under observation for the disease.
The US announcement came as other
countries around the world scrambled to contain the spread of the new virus,
On January 31, the UK confirmed its first two cases.
Estimates by the University of Hong Kong suggest the true total number of
cases could be far higher than official figures suggest. Based on mathematical
models of the outbreak, experts there say more than 75,000 people may have been
infected in the city of Wuhan alone, where the virus first emerged.
Most cases outside China involve people who have been to Wuhan. Germany,
Japan, Vietnam, the US, Thailand and South Korea have reported person-to-person
cases – patients being infected by people who had travelled to China.
Meanwhile in Wuhan, voluntary evacuations of hundreds of foreign nationals
are under way.
Australia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand and the UK are expected to quarantine all evacuees for two weeks to monitor them for symptoms and avoid contagion.
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