Coronavirus death toll rises to 41 in China, more than 1,200 sickened
The death toll from the coronavirus that began in China and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States, rose to 41 while the number of confirmed cases in China increased to over 1,200, authorities said Saturday.
The uptick comes as China expands its unprecedented lockdown of 39 million people to contain the reach of the pneumonia-like virus.
Cases have been reported in 29 Chinese provinces, with 572 cases alone coming out of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, the South China Morning Post reported. Hubei, the province where Wuhan is located, saw 39 deaths as a result of infection, according to data released by local governments.
China coronavirus: Lunar New Year subdued as outbreak spreads
China is marking the Lunar New Year, one of the most important dates in its calendar, while concerns grow about the coronavirus outbreak.
As millions go home for the holidays, travel restrictions have been expanded to 13 cities – home to more than 36 million people – in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak.
There are currently 830 confirmed cases in China, 26 of whom have died.
The virus has now spread to Europe, with two cases confirmed in France.
The first case was in Bordeaux, while the second was in the Paris area, the French health minister said on Friday night.
Wuhan, where the outbreak began, is rapidly building a new hospital.
The city – home to around 11 million people – is struggling to cope with the increasing number of patients.
Coronavirus: Fears rise of Chinese cover-up as 40 million in lockdown and hospitals overwhelmed
Mask-wearing patients fainting in the street. Hundreds of fearful citizens lining up cheek by jowl, at risk of infecting each other, in narrow hospital corridors as they wait to be treated by doctors in forbidding white hazmat suits. A fraught medic screaming in anguish in a break-room.
The terrifying video clips, reportedly recorded by shocked citizens from hospitals in Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus that has swept across China and infected 20 in eight foreign countries, went viral on Chinese social media this week and did not paint a picture of a government in control.
In one of the most heartbreaking clips, posted by Chinese-Australian cartoonist, Badiucao, but which could not be independently verified and was reportedly deleted from the Weibo social media site, the sick are seen sitting between drips and oxygen tanks next to three dead bodies covered in white sheets.
Further raw footage showed makeshift tents in hospital carparks, as the government pledged on Friday to construct a new 1000-bed facility within just ten days to treat and contain the new virus from a similar pathogen to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
After weeks of apparent delays in tackling the growing health emergency that first appeared from a Wuhan seafood market, the Chinese authorities suddenly swung into action this week with the draconian lockdown not only of the city of 11 million, but also severe travel curbs on 13 other cities in the surrounding Hubei province, corralling more than 40 million people.
China’s Unproven Antiviral Solution: Quarantine of 40 Million
China’s lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding areas to contain the coronavirus represents the first large-scale quarantine in modern times.
The effectiveness of attempting to cordon off the epicenter of the disease — an area of roughly 40 million people — will probably be scrutinized far into the future.
“The containment of a city hasn’t been done in the history of international public health policy,” said Shigeru Omi, who headed the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. “It’s a balance between respecting freedom of movement of people, and also prevention of further disease and public interest. It’s not a simple sort of thing; it’s very complex.”
Aside from raising questions about its probable effectiveness and implications for human rights, a quarantine could cause panic, public health experts said. The government will also have to ensure supplies of food, water and medical materials.
Some argue the authorities may have had no choice, since certain patients appear to have milder symptoms that can go undetected, allowing them to unwittingly spread the disease. Saturday also marks the start of the Lunar New Year holiday, when more than 500 million trips by plane and rail may be taken within and out of China.
Restricting the movement of those who may be carriers of diseases is an approach that goes as far back as the 14th century, though historically it was used mainly in smaller cities or neighborhoods. In China, the city of Wuhan alone — where the first outbound travel restriction was announced — has a population greater than any U.S. city at 11 million.
Chinese authorities first suspended all plane and train travel out of Wuhan early Thursday. The restrictions were later extended to other nearby cities.
‘This time I’m scared’: experts fear too late for China virus lockdown
China’s bid to contain a deadly new virus by placing cities of millions under quarantine is an unprecedented undertaking but it is unlikely to stop the disease spreading, experts warn.
The contagious virus has already reached elsewhere in China and abroad, and even an authoritarian government has only a small timeframe in which trapped residents will submit to such a lockdown, they say.
“I think we have passed the golden period of control and prevention,” said Guan Yi, an expert on viruses at Hong Kong University.
China began its campaign on Thursday, cutting off all transport links out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the coronavirus linked to SARS emerged late last year.
A cascading number of nearby cities has since been added to the travel blacklist, corralling more than 40 million people in a bid to stop those with the disease travelling and infecting others elsewhere.
However, with the death toll at 26 and infections being detected as far away as the United States, there are fears the exercise is too little too late.
Yi, who returned from Wuhan just before the lockdown, pointed out huge numbers of people would have already left ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which began Friday.
They could have been incubating the virus “on their way out of Wuhan”, he said.
Symptoms could take several days to emerge — effectively seeding a health time-bomb across the country and abroad.
Coronavirus outbreak: Video shows dead bodies in halls of China hospital
Disturbing new video shows dead bodies piling up in the hallways of a hospital in China, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spiral out of control.
The images from inside Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the deadly viral outbreak, show covered bodies lining corridors as staffers and patients walk about with masks on their faces.
The video, which has been widely shared on social media, was verified by Storyful on Friday.
Officials in Wuhan are scrambling to build a 1,000-bed hospital to address the burgeoning need for treatment of patients sickened by the coronavirus — which has killed at least 26 people and infected hundreds of others.
The new 270,000-square-foot facility is expected to be up and running by Feb. 3.
Wuhan, a city of over 11 million residents, has been on lockdown amid the outbreak, which has been linked to a seafood market there that sold exotic wildlife for human consumption.
Coronavirus Forces China to Close Some Famous Landmarks
Beijing’s Palace Museum, also known as The Forbidden City, will be closed to tourists from Saturday as China battles the outbreak of a coronavirus, the official People’s Daily reported on Thursday. Other popular places to be closed include:
The Great Wall of China. A section of the Great Wall near Beijing will be closed starting this weekend. The Great Wall is one of the oldest man-made structures still standing, with some sections more than 2,000 years old.
Yonghe Lama Temple. A center for Buddhist teaching, the Yonghe Lama temple and lamasery complex in Beijing dates to the 17th century when it was envisioned as an official residence for court eunuchs. It survived the Cultural Revolution and today is a working temple and popular attraction.
National Museum of China. The National Museum on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing is one of the largest museums in the world, and one of the most popular. Some 8.6 million people visited in 2018, making it the second most-visited museum in the world after the Louvre in Paris.
National Library of China. One of the largest libraries in the world, the National Library of China in Beijing has a collection of more than 37 million items.
National Art Museum of China. Construction of the National Art Museum of China was completed in 1962. The Beijing museum is home to ancient and modern Chinese works of art, including paintings, sculptures and porcelain.
Prince Gong’s Mansion. Built in 18th-century Beijing for a prominent official serving the Qing dynasty, the mansion and its gardens were later home to Prince Gong, a brother of the Xianfeng Emperor. During the Cultural Revolution, the mansion was a base for a factory making air-conditioning units before it became a protected cultural site and tourist attraction.
West Lake, Hangzhou. This freshwater lake has influenced generations of painters and poets. Unesco named it a World Heritage site in 2011 for its influence over garden design across China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.
Shanghai Disneyland. First opening in 2016, the Shanghai Disneyland includes two themed hotels, a Disneytown entertainment district and other attractions. It will be closed off starting Saturday.
Edited by staff