How the world responds to China’s coronavirus outbreak

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global public health emergency over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus on Thursday, citing the potential of the virus to spread to countries not prepared to deal with the contagion.

“I’m declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. “The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries.

As coronavirus spreads, the world is paying for China’s dictatorship, a New York Times article said today. Let’s take a look at how the world is responding to the coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan.

Russia

The Russian Prime Minister has signed an order to close the country’s far east border with China, according to Metro.

Mikhail Mishustin approved plans to immediately close the 2,700 mile strip, after President Vladimir Putin ordered officials to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the new disease.

He told his cabinet: ‘We’ll inform everyone today about the border-closure measures in the Far East region and other activities taken by the Russian government [on coronavirus prevention]’.

Russia is blocking organized tour groups from China, the state-run TASS news agency cited Russia’s travel industry union as saying Tuesday.

Russia and China are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine and Beijing has handed over the genome of the virus to Moscow, a Russian diplomatic mission in China said on Wednesday (Jan 29).

North Korea

Authorities in North Korea have suspended all trade with China in an attempt to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus into the country, as several confirmed cases of infection have occurred in Chinese cities on the border with North Korea, RFA has learned.

Sources say that trade between North Korea and its northern neighbor came to a halt Friday, and the North Korean consulate in China has posted a notice saying that it is suspending the issuance of visas for travel to North Korea.

“From today, freight-car-traffic from Dandong, China through the Sinuiju customs office [in North Korea], has been completely stopped,” a source in North Pyongan province told RFA’s Korean Service Tuesday.

North Korea imposes one-month quarantine on foreign visitors from China.

Thailand

Thailand has seen 14 cases of coronavirus, more than any country outside of China. All but one of them have been among Chinese visiting Thailand, a popular tourist destination.

Thailand cannot stop the spread of a mysterious disease within its borders.

Thai health officials said on Wednesday they will start screening tourist sector workers for coronavirus as part of measures to control the spread.

Thailand’s baht has lost half of 2019’s gains in just a month, hit by emerging market outflows and as the spread of a flu-like virus in China threatens the country’s tourism sector.

Japan

Three Japanese citizens among more than 200 evacuated from China have tested positive for the new coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said Thursday (Jan 30).

Japanese companies with a foothold in China are delaying their plans to restart operations suspended due to the Lunar New Year holiday in the country. On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. decided to keep its four auto assembly plants in China offline until Feb. 9.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is hitting the tourism industry in China, Japan and Thailand “hard,” industry experts have claimed.

In one recent example, about 20,000 tourists canceled trips booked with a Tokyo-based tour company.

Germany

German flagship airline Lufthansa announced on Wednesday that it would suspend all flights to and from mainland China until February 9.

Within Germany there have been four confirmed cases of the coronavirus. All four Germans are currently being treated in isolation.

The German government reportedly plans to evacuate 90 citizens in Wuhan at the weekend.

France

France has confirmed a fourth case of a new virus spreading in China, an elderly Chinese tourist who is in intensive care in a Paris hospital.

France dispatched a plane to China early Thursday to bring back approximately 250 French and European nationals from the epicenter of novel coronavirus.

The plane took off Roissy Airport at 4 a.m. local time.

United Kingdom

Britain has asked the Chinese authorities to allow family members of its citizens who are trapped in the Coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan to leave, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday.

Britain had planned to fly back its citizens to a military base but the flight is now unlikely to take off on Thursday. It is hoped that the flight may depart on Friday instead, according to British sources.

“We are doing everything we can to get British people in Wuhan safely back to the UK,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

A key UK-China business conference, set to be held this year in Birmingham from 17 to 19 February, has been been postponed due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus.

Australia

Australia is yet to gain permission from the Chinese government to evacuate hundreds of citizens trapped in the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan, despite the US and other countries having already been granted access to the region, according to the Guardian.

Asked why Australia was still in negotiations while other nations had already begun the evacuation process, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government did not have a consular presence in Wuhan, meaning it was forced to relocate officials from Shanghai.

Seven cases have been diagnosed in Australia and two Australian citizens now in China have contracted coronavirus.

Scientists in Australia have become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China in what they have called a “significant breakthrough”.

The discovery will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the hope it may help efforts to diagnose and treat the virus.

Denmark

Chinese officials demanded a public apology from a Danish newspaper on Tuesday for publishing a cartoon replacing the five stars on the national flag of the People’s Republic of China with drawings of five microscopic particles of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen commented briefly on the matter on Tuesday prior to a Social Democratic parliamentary party meeting, Jyllands-Posten reports.

“I have nothing else to say about it other than that we have a very, very strong tradition in Denmark, not only for free speech, but also for satirical drawings, and that will continue in the future as well. It is a well-known Danish position, and we won’t change that,” she said.

The PM did not respond directly to the Chinese calls for an apology.

“I just want to say from Denmark and the Danish government’s side, all we have to say is that we have freedom of expression in Denmark — also to draw,” Frederiksen said.

WHO

The “whole world needs to be on alert” to fight the coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme has said.

Dr Mike Ryan praised China’s response to the deadly outbreak, saying: “The challenge is great but the response has been massive.”

The WHO will meet on Thursday to discuss whether the virus constitutes a global health emergency.

Edited by staff

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