Infections from coronavirus exceed 20K as China vows new measures to prevent spread

By | February 4, 2020

The number of reported people infected with coronavirus surpassed 20,000 on Tuesday, prompting President Xi Jinping to announce a “people’s war of prevention of the epidemic” while addressing China’s elite Politburo.

Xi said on Monday that China must race against time to limit the spread of the virus and said those who neglect their duties will be punished, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Experts believe the highly transmissible disease will become a pandemic as the number of cases continues to increase in China and worldwide.

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Volunteers stand beneath a Communist Party flag as they man a barricade checkpoint at a village in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

Volunteers stand beneath a Communist Party flag as they man a barricade checkpoint at a village in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

There are now 11 confirmed cases in the U.S.

As of Tuesday morning, six were in California, one in Arizona, one in Washington state, one in Massachusetts and two in Illinois. No deaths have been reported in the U.S. and 99 percent of cases still remain in China.

A military officer wearing a protective suit gives instructions to evacuees from Wuhan, China, as they travel to a hospital after their arrival at a military base in Wroclaw, Poland, on Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj, File)

A military officer wearing a protective suit gives instructions to evacuees from Wuhan, China, as they travel to a hospital after their arrival at a military base in Wroclaw, Poland, on Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj, File)

Three more people were announced to have been infected in California on Sunday.

“I understand that people are concerned, but based on what we know today, the risk to [the] general public remains low,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer. “A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases.”

The U.S. announced Sunday that Americans who traveled to China within the last 14 days would be sent to designated airports for enhanced screenings. Foreign nationals who recently went to China would be denied entry in the U.S., except for the immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.

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China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the U.S. hasn’t given the country any substantive help in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak. They added the U.S. was contributing to the international panic surrounding the illness, according to a report by Reuters.

The Huoshenshan temporary field hospital under construction is seen as it nears completion in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

The Huoshenshan temporary field hospital under construction is seen as it nears completion in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

Three people in New York City are also being tested for the coronavirus after they made recent trips to mainland China, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

“We are continuing to work closely with our partners at the CDC, State, and federal government as the coronavirus situation evolves,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “If you have traveled to the area affected by the outbreak in the last 14 days and feel unwell, call your doctor or visit a clinic, and you will be cared for.”

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Test results conducted by the CDC will take roughly 36-48 hours to determine if the three people in New York City were infected with the virus.

Weeks after China announced the outbreak of the coronavirus, the international community has increased measures to prevent a widespread epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency as it spreads to countries outside of China and the number of infected patients continues to grow.

Countries around the globe have increased travel restrictions to the infected mainland China and Hubei province — with the U.S. State Department increasing its advisory to level 4: “Do Not Travel.”

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country.

A man wearing a face mask stands on a subway train in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Much of China officially went back to work on Monday after the Lunar New Year holiday was extended several days by the government due to a virus outbreak, but China's capital remained largely empty as local officials strongly encouraged non-essential businesses to remain closed or work from home. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

A man wearing a face mask stands on a subway train in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Much of China officially went back to work on Monday after the Lunar New Year holiday was extended several days by the government due to a virus outbreak, but China’s capital remained largely empty as local officials strongly encouraged non-essential businesses to remain closed or work from home. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Coronavirus has now infected and killed more people in China than were sickened during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

Here are the latest figures.

How many have been infected or have died?

The death toll from the virus increased to 425 on Tuesday, with a total of 20,438 infected — an increase of 15 percent in those killed and infected from the previous day.

The SARS outbreak had killed 349 people in mainland China back in 2002 and 2003 — with 744 deaths and 8,096 infections globally, according to the CDC.

The first death outside of China was recorded in the Philippines on Sunday. The 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan was hospitalized last week with a fever, cough and sore throat, and died after developing severe pneumonia, according to the Philippines health department.

Hong Kong reported its first death on Tuesday in a 39-year-old man who traveled from Wuhan.

The WHO said the number of cases will keep growing as tests are pending on thousands of suspected cases.

Where is the virus?

Roughly 99 percent of new cases have appeared in China with the vast majority of the cases in Hubei province and its provincial capital, Wuhan — the epicenter of the virus.

A volunteer stands in front of a Communist Party flag as he takes the temperature of a scooter driver at a roadside checkpoint in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. China sent medical workers and equipment to a newly built hospital, infused cash into financial markets and further restricted people's movement in sweeping new steps Monday to contain a rapidly spreading virus and its escalating impact. (Chinatopix via AP)

A volunteer stands in front of a Communist Party flag as he takes the temperature of a scooter driver at a roadside checkpoint in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. China sent medical workers and equipment to a newly built hospital, infused cash into financial markets and further restricted people’s movement in sweeping new steps Monday to contain a rapidly spreading virus and its escalating impact. (Chinatopix via AP)

About 150 cases have been reported in at least 25 countries globally.

The United Kingdom announced on Friday it has two cases of the virus, who are reportedly members of the same family.

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“The patients are receiving specialist NHS [National Health Service] care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” said Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer.

France — 6 cases

Russia — 2

Spain — 1

Thailand — 19

Australia — 12

Germany — 10

Canada — 4

Japan — 20

Malaysia — 8

South Korea — 15

Taiwan — 11

United Arab Emirates — 5

Vietnam — 8

Sri Lanka — 1

Philippines — 2 (1 death)

Nepal — 1

Finland –1

Cambodia — 1

India — 3

Singapore — 18

Italy — 2

Sweden — 1

Differences between coronavirus and the flu?

The flu has estimated to have killed roughly 10,000 to 25,000 people with nearly 19 to 26 million infected in the U.S. between October 1, 2019, and January 25, 2020, according to the CDC. Coronavirus has impacted a far lesser number, although it’s not yet clear how many have been infected or how widespread it is.

There have also been reports it can be spread without symptoms showing up. In respiratory illnesses, people with the most symptoms are the most contagious, the agency said. Children and those over 65 are the most likely to get sick from the flu, the CDC added.

HOW IS CORONAVIRUS TRANSMITTED?

Unlike the coronavirus, there’s a seasonal vaccine for the flu. People over six months out are advised by the agency to get it during annual vaccination, with certain rare exceptions, such as severe allergies to the shot.

No vaccine has been developed for coronavirus as of yet, which makes it dangerous in that respect.

How did it start?

Chinese scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats. A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology said that genome sequences from seven patients tested were identical to the bat coronavirus.

How does it transmit?

It’s believed the normal coronavirus can be transmitted most commonly through respiratory droplets in the air, as well as close contact with an infected person or touching areas contaminated with the virus before washing. The digestive tract may also transmit the disease, according to scientists from the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinses Academy of Science. They recently discovered “virus genetic material” in feces samples and rectal swabs from some patients, Chinese state media reported.

What are the current travel restrictions?

The U.S. declared the coronavirus a public health emergency on Friday with Trump signing an order barring entry to foreign nationals who recently were in China, other than the immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.

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Officials at the CDC have advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. The U.S. State Department raised its China travel advisory to “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” The U.S. expanded the screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan from five to 20 airports.

People wearing face masks ride a mostly empty subway train during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

People wearing face masks ride a mostly empty subway train during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

“Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus,” The advisory said.

Vietnam stopped all flights to and from China.

Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia all have similar policies to the U.S. on restricting non-citizens.

Mongolia and Singapore have shut their borders.

Singapore said it would ban travelers from China’s Hubei province.

Pakistan says they’re halting all flights to and from China until Feb. 2.

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The United Kingdom and New Zealand advised their people against nonessential travel to China.

Russia has signed an order to close the border between them and China. They also blocked tour groups from China.

China has cut off access to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, trapping more than 50 million people

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Japan bars foreign nationals who had been to Hubei province.

Carnival and Royal Carribean denying boarding of people who travel to China within 14 days.

Italy suspended all flights to China.

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South Korea urged an increase in its level of caution to “restraint” when traveling to China.

Hong Kong reduced half its flights and shut down rail service to mainland China.

Delta suspended service to China on Feb. 6.

United’s pilots, concerned for their safety, were able to drop trips to China without pay, a union memo said, according to Reuters.

American Airlines suspended L.A. flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 pilots for American Airlines filed a lawsuit to halt service with the airline, citing “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus.”

“I am directing all APA pilots to cease flight operations between the United States and China,” said APA president Eric Ferguson. “Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned, or reassigned a pairing into China, decline the assignment by calling your Chief Pilot or IOC Duty Pilot. Inform them you are declining in accordance with the CDC and WHO declarations.”

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Delta suspending service on Feb 6. — last flight on Monday.

British Airways suspended all flights to and from mainland China.

Virgin Atlantic suspending operations to Shanghai for two weeks.

Lufthansa suspending flights to and from China until Feb. 9.

Air India and Seoul Air halting all flights to the country.

Egypt Air suspending all fights starting Feb. 1.

Air France suspending all flights until Feb. 9.

Finnair, Cathay Pacific, and Jetstar also stopping service.

Lion Air canceled 50 flights to China into February.

Air Canada suspending all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

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Kenya Airways suspends all flights to China.

The Associated Press contributed to the report


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