More Chinese cities Closed Down As Coronavirus Death Toll Increases

Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand all reported new infections not imported from China on Tuesday. Two fatalities have been reported outside the mainland, in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

More Chinese cities Closed Down As Coronavirus Death Toll Increases - SurgeZirc SA
Medical staff hug each other in an isolation ward at a hospital in Zouping in China’s easter Shandong province

As days pass by, Coronavirus threatens China the more as millions of people have been forced to stay indoors while the country fights harder to control the spread of the new deadly virus which has claimed 500 lives already according to authorities on Wednesday.

So far, China has recorded more than 24,000 cases, more cities have continued to impose restrictions in recent days far from central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, as authorities struggle to combat the Coronavirus.

Global concerns have risen as more countries found cases that were not imported from China and 10 people tested positive for the virus on a ship quarantined off the coast of Japan.

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Some 56 million people in Hubei have been under virtual lockdown since last week, with its capital Wuhan at the heart of the health emergency.

In Hangzhou, some 175 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Shanghai, green fences blocked streets near the headquarters of Chinese tech giant Alibaba as a fighter jet circled overhead.

Alibaba, one of the world’s most valuable companies, appeared shut down, while deliverymen moved in and out of the nearby fenced-in residential areas to drop off groceries. Many people were also seen going out.

The firm is inside one of three districts where some three million people were told this week that only one person per household would be allowed outside every two days to buy necessities.

Medical personnel in a hospital in China battling the Coronavirus Death Toll Increases - SurgeZirc SA
Some 56 million people in Hubei have been under virtual lockdown since last week, with its capital Wuhan at the heart of the health emergency

“Please don’t go out, don’t go out, don’t go out!” blared a message on a loudspeaker urging people to wear masks, wash their hands regularly and report any people who are from Hubei — a common fear in other parts of the country that people from the province might infect others.

At least three other cities in eastern Zhejiang province — Taizhou, Wenzhou and parts of Ningbo — have imposed the same measures, affecting some 18 million people.

Similar policies were encouraged by authorities in two cities as far as China’s northeasternmost province, Heilongjiang, and a handful of others along the east coast.

In Henan province, which borders Hubei, a district in the city of Zhumadian decided that only one person could leave each household every five days. Residents there have been offered cash rewards for informing on people from Hubei.

Global jitters

The disease is believed to have emerged in December in a Wuhan market that sold wild animals, and spread rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in January.

The death toll has steadily increased, rising to 490 in China after Hubei reported 65 more people had died.

More Chinese cities Closed Down As Coronavirus Death Toll Increases - SurgeZirc SA
A growing number of cities in China have been imposing restrictions in recent days far from Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, as authorities struggle to contain the virus

Most deaths have been in the province and officials have noted that the death rate, at around two percent, is below the mortality rate of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The new coronavirus is from the same family of pathogens as the one that causes SARS, which killed some 800 people in 2002-2003.

The epidemic has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, several governments to institute travel restrictions, and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.

United and American Airlines said Wednesday they have added Hong Kong to their China flight suspensions. On Wednesday Japan said at least 10 passengers on a cruise ship carrying 3,711 people have the virus.

Japan's cruise ship carrying 3,711 people and was testing those on board for the new coronavirus
Japan has quarantined a cruise ship carrying 3,711 people and was testing those on board for the new coronavirus

Window of opportunity

But the WHO said Tuesday that dramatic measures taken by China offered a chance to halt transmission.

Staff and volunteers transfer medical supplies at a warehouse converted into a makeshift hospital in Wuhan

Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand all reported new infections not imported from China on Tuesday. Two fatalities have been reported outside the mainland, in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has closed all but two land crossings with the Chinese mainland. As countries battle to keep the virus off their shores, the WHO chief accused wealthy countries of falling short on their duties in sharing data.

“Of the 176 cases reported outside China so far, WHO has received complete case report forms for only 38 percent,” he said.

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