/China imposes lockdown on coastal city of nine million people as Coronavirus death soars

China imposes lockdown on coastal city of nine million people as Coronavirus death soars

China
imposed a lockdown on Sunday on a major city far from the epicentre of the
coronavirus epidemic, as its death toll from the disease soared to 304 and the
first fatality outside the country was reported in the Philippines.

The man who died was a
44-year-old from Wuhan who appeared to have been infected before arriving in
the Philippines, according to the World Health Organisation.

He
is believed to have travelled to the Philippines from Wuhan where the virus was
first detected, via Hong Kong and everyone who was on a plane with him is being
tracked down for a possible quarantine

China
has embarked on unprecedented efforts to contain the virus, which is believed
to have jumped to humans from a Wuhan animal market and can be transmitted
among people in a similar fashion to the flu.

China’s reaction

The lockdown following the death reported in the
Philippines adds to deepening
concern about the potential for the virus to spread, as governments around the
world closed their borders to people from China.

Struggling to contain the virus,
authorities took action in the eastern city of Wenzhou on Sunday, closing roads and
confining people to their homes.

Since emerging out of Wuhan late
last year, the coronavirus has infected nearly 14 500 people across China and
reached 24 countries.

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In Thailand, which has 19
confirmed cases, doctors said an elderly Chinese patient treated with a
cocktail of flu and HIV drugs had shown a dramatic improvement and tested
negative for the virus 48 hours later.

Most of the infections overseas
have been in people who had travelled from Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11
million people, or surrounding areas of Hubei province.

Lockdowns

Extraordinary quarantine measures in Wuhan and surrounding cities were implemented, with all transport
out banned, effectively sealing-off more than 50 million people.

But 10 days after locking down
Wuhan, authorities imposed similar draconian measures on Wenzhou, a coastal
city of nine million people in Zhejiang province, part of the eastern
industrial heartland that has powered China’s economic rise over recent
decades.

Only one resident per household
is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities, and 46 highway toll
stations have been closed, authorities announced.

The city had previously closed
public places such as cinemas and museums and suspended public transport.

Zhejiang has 661 confirmed
infections, with 265 of those in Wenzhou, according to the government.

 spraying

Health
officials spraying on the empty streets of Wuhan. (Getty Images)


This is the highest tally for any
province in China after ground-zero Hubei.

Internationally, the United
States, Australia, New Zealand and Israel have banned foreign nationals from
visiting if they have been in China recently, and they have also warned their
own citizens against travelling there.

Mongolia, Russia and Nepal have
closed their land borders.

The number of countries reporting
infections rose to 24 after Britain, Russia and Sweden confirmed their first
cases this weekend.

The death toll in China climbed
to 304 on Sunday after authorities reported 45 new deaths.

There were 2 590 new confirmed
cases in China, bringing the total to nearly 14 500.

The number of confirmed
infections in China is far higher than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
(SARS) outbreak of 2002-03.

SARS, caused by a pathogen
similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people
worldwide – most of them in mainland China and Hong Kong.

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With hospitals in Wuhan
overwhelmed, China will Monday open a military-led field hospital that was
built in just 10 days to treat people stricken by the virus.

And with the Chinese economy
suffering, the central bank announced it would release 1.2 trillion yuan ($173bn) Monday to maintain liquidity in the banking system – the day markets
re-open after the long holiday break.

Holiday
ending

The emergence of the virus
coincided with the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions travel across the
country in planes, trains and buses for family reunions.

The holiday, which was scheduled
to end on Friday, was extended by three days to give authorities more time to
try to deal with the crisis.

With many due back at work on
Monday, people were starting to return on planes and trains over the weekend,
with almost everyone wearing face masks.

Coronavirus scanning
Thai
nurses and doctors check temperatures of travellers coming from Hong Kong. (Paula
Bronstein/Getty Images)

Custom authorities had ordered
temperature checks at all exit-entry points in Beijing, according to state
media.

Returning travellers were being
checked and registered at residential compounds, while fever checks were in
place in subway stations, offices and cafes.

Returning travellers had a lot of emotions to
share as they were being checked and registered at residential compounds:

One
22-year-old arriving at a Beijing train station from north-eastern China said
her family had urged her to delay her return.

“But I was worried it would
affect my job,” she said.

Security guard Du Guiliang, 47,
said he would be starting back at work in Beijing on Sunday, after returning
from northeast Liaoning province.

“Many colleagues (from
Hubei) couldn’t come back. Now, those who work the day shift at our company
have to do the night shift as well,” he said.

Many businesses were to remain
closed for at least another week, however, while some major cities – including
Shanghai – had also extended the holiday.

“(My family) said I need to
go home,” said 22-year-old South African student Jamie Bosch as she waited
for a flight out of Beijing.

Many
foreigners, meanwhile, have started to leave China to wait things out abroad.

Original Source