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China locks down two cities at epicentre of virus outbreak

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China locks down two cities at epicentre of virus outbreak

By Yawen Chen, Se Young Lee

 

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Children wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Train Station, in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

BEIJING (Reuters) - China put on lockdown on Thursday two cities at the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people and infected nearly 600, as health authorities around the world scramble to prevent a global pandemic.

 

Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.

 

The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

 

Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended on Thursday morning and people were told not to leave. Hours later, state media in neighbouring Huanggang, a city of some 6 million people, said it was imposing a similar lockdown.

 

Chinese authorities gave no new details on the numbers of virus infections but it has been reported in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and several other countries including the United States, stoking fears it is already spreading worldwide.

 

Wuhan’s city government said it would shut down all urban transport networks and suspend outgoing flights from 10 a.m. (0200 GMT). Domestic media said some airlines were operating after the deadline, however.

 

State media broadcast images of one of Wuhan’s transport hubs, the Hankou rail station, nearly deserted, with gates blocked or barred. The government is urging citizens not to leave the city.

 

State media reported highway toll booths around Wuhan were closing down, which would effectively cut off road exits. Guards were patrolling major highways, one resident told Reuters.

 

As the city slipped into isolation, residents thronged into hospitals for checks and scrambled for supplies, clearing out supermarket shelves and queuing for petrol.

 

Authorities in Huanggang ordered indoor entertainment venues including cinemas and internet cafes to close and were asking citizens not to leave other than under special circumstances, state media said.

 

Authorities had confirmed 571 cases and 17 deaths by the end of Wednesday, China’s National Health Commission said. Earlier, it said another 393 suspected cases had been reported.

 

Of eight known cases worldwide, Thailand has confirmed four, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have reported one each.

 

In a report on Wednesday, Imperial College London said it estimated a total of 4,000 cases of the coronavirus in Wuhan alone as of Jan. 18, an infection rate based on the number of cases reported in China and elsewhere.

 

VIRUS SPREADINGIn contrast with its secrecy over the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, China’s communist government has provided regular updates to avoid panic ahead of the holidays.

 

During a visit to Wuhan, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said authorities needed to be open about the virus and efforts to contain it, the official Xinhua news agency said.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will decide on Thursday whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, which would step up the international response.

 

If it does so, it will be the sixth international public health emergency to be declared in the last decade.

 

Some experts believe the new virus is not as dangerous as previous coronaviruses such as SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

 

“The early evidence at this stage would suggest it’s not as severe,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told reporters.

 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that China’s actions were “very strong” but called on it to take “more and significant measures to limit or minimise the international spread”.

 

“We stressed to them that by having a strong action not only they will control the outbreak in their country but they will also minimise the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally. So they recognise that,” he said.

 

Despite China’s response, stock markets across Asia were on the back foot on Thursday, led by drops of roughly 1.5% in Hong Kong and Shanghai while China’s yuan fell to a two-week low. [MKTS/GLOB]

 

FLIGHTS, RAIL SUSPENDED

 

There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing and cough, similar to many other respiratory illnesses.

 

Preliminary research suggested the virus was passed on to humans from snakes, but government medical adviser Zhong Nanshan has also identified badgers and rats as possible sources. Confirmed sufferers include 15 medical workers.

 

Many Chinese were cancelling trips, buying face masks and avoiding cinemas and shopping centres, and even turning to an online plague simulation game as a way to cope.

 

The release of seven movies over the Lunar New Year has been postponed. The holiday is the high season for distributors and cinemas attract huge crowds.

 

Airports globally stepped up screening of passengers from China and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said the further global spread of the virus was likely.

 

“Obviously this is a huge concern for the world,” Britain’s business minister, Andrea Leadsom, told Sky.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-01-23
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Isn't it just perfect timing, with the chinese new year massive traveling around the world?

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Lock the country down. You know where you can throw the key to.

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China is covering up how bad it is!

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAYIAM3WnKg

 

 

Edited by Don Chance
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40 minutes ago, URMySunshine said:

A doctor at a hospital in Wuhan spoke to the BBC

The virus is now spreading at an alarming rate. The hospitals have been flooding with thousands of patients, who wait hours to see a doctor - you can imagine their panic.

This is also peak flu and cold season. Imagine the cross contamination between 1000s of patients crammed together for hours.  Many diagnosed with a cold and sent home will now have the new virus.

 

In other news. A Chinese woman with a fever travelling to France to meet a friend took fever reducing medication to evade screening, she reported on social media.

Edited by rabas

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Well here's an update from the horses mouth just to circumvent the BBC/Youtube/rumour mill/gasp hold your breath and listen to this media. Wuhan Health Commission says:

 

Wuhan was put on lock down at 10am today BCT. It's airport, high speed rail station, train satation, ferries and long distance bus services were suspended.

 

Fatalities stand at 17. All of the deceased are between the ages of 48 and 89 years old. 15 of the 17 were over 60 and most had underlying health issues.

 

It has been suggested that children and young people are less susceptible to the virus.

 

Infections stood at 615 across all the mainland.

 

Within Wuhan, a mandatory mask policy has been introduced in all public buildings No mask, no entry. Violators to be reported to the authorities.

 

The World Health Organisation declined to declare a public health emergency, to be reviewed daily. They also said that there is no evidence of 3rd or 4th generation transmission.

 

A group of Chinese researchers concluded that snakes were the 'most probable wildlife animal reservoir' however this was dismissed by their peers as too simplistic in it's analysis.

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State media reported highway toll booths around Wuhan were closing down, which would effectively cut off road exits. Guards were patrolling major highways, one resident told Reuters.

 

sounds like one of the sci-fi films where a deadly virus spreads throughout the country and people who try to flee are shot dead.

 

Obviously it isn't so bad and for once it is good to see the Chinese authorities doing something. 

 

If the virus hits Thailand in the same way, I hope the authorities here don't cover it up, but act in the same manner and contain the virus as best they can.

 

if this virus mutates several times it has the potential to develop into a pandemic.

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6 minutes ago, zydeco said:

I suggest Xi and Trump hold an emergency meeting in Wuhan.

Can we invite Boris too?

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27 minutes ago, Traubert said:

The World Health Organisation declined to declare a public health emergency, to be reviewed daily. They also said that there is no evidence of 3rd or 4th generation transmission.

The WHO comment on transmission is likely out of date. Your own CDC is saying something very different as of a couple of days ago:

 

The epidemiological investigation of 198 confirmed cases revealed that 22% of patients had direct exposure to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before illness onset; 32% of patients had contact with patients with fever or respiratory symptoms; and 51% of cases had neither visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market nor had contact with similar patients before their illness onset. http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/e3c63ca9-dedb-4fb6-9c1c-d057adb77b57

 

Most cases are now beyond 2nd generation and not traceable. Now, with 634 confirmed cases its likely more.  Add to that now 3 major metropolitan cities locked down with little or no preparation time, unprecedented in living memory. 

 

Correct me if I am wrong, at least in China it is out of control and they are making desperate moves because they know it. 

 

 

Edited by rabas

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10 minutes ago, rabas said:

The WHO comment on transmission is likely out of date. Your own CDC is saying something very different as of a couple of days ago:

 

The epidemiological investigation of 198 confirmed cases revealed that 22% of patients had direct exposure to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before illness onset; 32% of patients had contact with patients with fever or respiratory symptoms; and 51% of cases had neither visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market nor had contact with similar patients before their illness onset. http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/e3c63ca9-dedb-4fb6-9c1c-d057adb77b57

 

Most cases are now beyond 2nd generation and not traceable. Now, with 634 confirmed cases its likely more.  Add to that now 3 major metropolitan cities locked down with little or no preparation time, unprecedented in living memory. 

 

Correct me if I am wrong, at least in China it is out of control and they are making desperate moves because they know it. 

 

 

Maybe.

 

I only pass on what is reported on the ground so I'm not qualified to correct anyone's opinion.

 

Nor are my posts my opinion.

 

I do know 'a doctor in a Wuhan hospital' speaking to the BBC is likely to be a staged fake though.

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Not meaning to downplay what's going on, but in perspective, every year, the USA alone loses around 35,000 people to the flu.  Often, a new strain.  35 million affected, 490,000 hospitalized, 34,000 fatalities in the last full season of records.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

 

China having 5x the USA's population, I suspect their numbers are a lot higher on a typical year.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by impulse
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