January 26, 2020

CHINA: China's President Xi Jinping Warns Of 'Grave Situation' As Killer Coronavirus Accelerates, Doctor Dies And US Evacuates Its Citizens From Wuhan After Death Toll Jumps To 56 With 1,372 Cases.

Daily Mail, UK
written by Ryan Fahey, James Wood, Sam Blanchard, Vanessa Chalmers, Connor Boyd, and Stephen Matthews Health Editor for MailOnline
Saturday January 25, 2020

The deadly coronavirus is 'accelerating' and China is facing a 'grave situation', the country's president has said - as at least one doctor has died from the virus and the US prepares to evacuate citizens from crisis-hit Wuhan.

The virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, already on lockdown and where the virus is thought to have originated, banned most vehicle use downtown and Hong Kong said it would close schools for two weeks as authorities scramble to stop the spread of an illness that has infected just over 2,000 people worldwide and killed 56 in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke following an emergency government meeting to warn that the spread of the killer virus is worsening, as video emerged showing medics collapsing at hospitals in the capital of central China's Hubei province as the coronavirus outbreak continues to move across the world.

China's central Hubei province, at the center of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, reported 13 new deaths caused by the new virus on Jan. 25, state media CCTV reported on Sunday. Shanghai also reported its first death from the virus. Hubei also reported 323 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections. Separately, the province of Henan reported one death from coronavirus infection.

Some 1,372 people in China had been infected with the virus - traced to a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.

The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States.

'Faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus [...] it is necessary to strengthen the centralised and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee,' Xi said, according to official news agency Xinhua.

It comes as Liang Wudong, 62, who had been treating patients in Wuhan, died from the virus this morning, state-run China Global Television Network reported.

Wudong, who was retired but drafted in to help with the outbreak, died after time spent treating patients. It was also reported that another doctor, Jiang Jijun, has died from a heart attack while treating the afflicted.

It is unknown if the infectious disease specialist, who has treated bird flu and influenza A and tuberculosis over the years, died as a result of coronavirus or from exhaustion.

And the US, which has around 1,000 citizens in the city, is set to evacuate those it knows about - including diplomats - on a 230 seater charter flight tomorrow.

The US government won approval for the operation from China's Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days, The Wall Street Journal reports. The British Foreign Ministry is yet to confirm whether it will do the same.

Also today, distressing video has emerged showing a doctor collapsing on the floor as footage revealed the full scale of panic inside Wuhan hospitals, with crowded corridors and patients slumped on the floor.

Video shows staff shouting at patients to calm themselves as medics desperately try to contain the situation. Some workers are reported to be wearing diapers as they don't have time to use the toilet amid the panic.

Some 56 million people are now subject to restrictions on their movement as authorities expand travel bans in central Hubei province, now affecting 18 cities.

Other shocking developments in the outbreak today include:
  • China's National Health Commission said it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help
  • Videos from inside Chinese hospitals show patients crammed into overcrowded corridors and laid on the floor
  • Global airports have stepped up screening of passengers from China, though some have questioned its worth
  • China says virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact, mostly affecting the frail and old
  • Shanghai has shut all cinemas until 30 January in a desperate bid to try and stop the spread of the killer virus
  • Wuhan will impose ban on non-essential vehicles in downtown area from January 26 to contain virus outbreak
  • Hong Kong declares a virus emergency announcing a series of measures to limit city's links with mainland China
  • Starbucks said it was closing all outlets in Hubei province, following a similar move by McDonald's in five cities
  • Yum China Holdings Inc said it has temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan as a result
  • All overseas group tour services, including hotel and plane bookings, from Chinese travel firms to be suspended
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has declared a virus emergency in the Asian financial hub, announcing a package of measures to limit the city's links with mainland China.

Schools, now on Lunar New Year holidays, would remain shut until February 17, while inbound and outbound flights and high speed rail trips between Hong Kong and Wuhan would be halted.

China's National Health Commission has announced it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help Wuhan. Three of the six teams, from Shanghai, Guangdong and military hospitals have arrived in Wuhan.

China will suspend both domestic and overseas Chinese group tours, state media reported today, as it ramps up efforts to contain the new SARS-like virus.

Starting on Monday, all overseas group tour services, including hotel and plane ticket bookings, from Chinese travel agencies will be suspended, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Domestic tour groups were suspended from Friday, it said.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million, has been in virtual lockdown since Thursday, with nearly all flights at the airport cancelled and checkpoints blocking the main roads leading out of town. Authorities have since imposed transport restrictions on nearly all of Hubei province, which has a population of 59 million.

In Beijing today, workers in white protective suits checked temperatures of passengers entering the subway at the central railway station, while some train services in eastern China's Yangtze River Delta region were suspended, the local railway operator said.

The number of confirmed cases in China stands at 1,287, the National Health Commission said today.

U.S. coffee chain Starbucks said on Saturday that it was closing all its outlets in Hubei province for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, following a similar move by McDonald's in five Hubei cities.

Yum China Holdings Inc said it has temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city.

'We will continue to evaluate the need for additional actions and preventive health measures,' Yum China said in an emailed statement.

The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Malaysia, France, the United States and Australia.

Australia on Saturday announced its first case of coronavirus, a Chinese national in his 50s, who had been in Wuhan and arrived from China on Jan. 19 on a flight from Guangzhou. He is in stable condition in a Melbourne hospital.

'Given the number of cases that have been found outside of China and the significant traffic from Wuhan city in the past to Australia, it was not unexpected that we would get some cases,' Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a news conference.

'This is the first confirmed case. There are other cases being tested each day, many of them are negative, but I wouldn't be surprised if we had further confirmed cases.'

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it had 63 patients under investigation, with two confirmed cases, both in people who had travelled to Wuhan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus an 'emergency in China' this week but stopped short of declaring it of international concern.

Human-to-human transmission has been observed in the virus.

China's National Health Commission said on Saturday it had formed six medical teams totalling 1,230 medical staff to help Wuhan. Three of the six teams, from Shanghai, Guangdong and military hospitals have arrived in Wuhan.

Hubei province, where authorities are rushing to build a 1,000 bed hospital in six days to treat patients, announced on Saturday that there were 658 patients affected by the virus in treatment, 57 of whom were critically ill.

The newly-identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been in elderly patients, many with pre-existing conditions, the WHO said.

It comes as residents of the Chinese city at the centre of the country's coronavirus crisis fear they are 'trapped' and will all be infected because of the government lockdown which has stopped anyone from leaving.

Authorities yesterday scrambled to shut tourist attractions and public transport systems in 14 cities in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus that has killed at least 55 people and infected more than 1,200.

In a drastic turn of events, part of the Great Wall of China and Disneyland in Shanghai were closed yesterday as authorities desperately try to stop people spreading the Wuhan coronavirus.

Thirteen cities, home to around 40million people, are reported to have followed Wuhan's example and gone into some form of lockdown in the past 24 hours with public transport halted and roads closed.

A man living in Wuhan yesterday told MailOnline people there are 'all trapped' and and he fears he and his family will become infected if they aren't allowed to leave the city.
Fourteen cities across the Hubei province in China are restricting the movement of people – by reducing or cancelling public transport and closing roads – to try and stop the virus spreading
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don't realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

The man, who is not a Chinese citizen, is part of an international community who are all 'panicked', he said, and want to get out of the city before they are made ill.

A report published yesterday warned China's deadly new virus could have infected 350,000 people in a single city by the end of the month, according to experts who warn doctors are only diagnosing one in every 20 cases.

There were 1,287 confirmed cases and 55 people had died in China as of Friday, Chinese state media reported.

Scientists now say thousands of people might catch the virus without ever knowing they have had it, making it far easier to spread than was initially feared.

A second patient was diagnosed in the US yesterday – a woman in Chicago – and 63 other people in 22 states are being monitored for possible cases . Across the Atlantic, British authorities have tested 14 people but all were negative – a small number of other people are expected to go through tests yesterday.

A man living in Wuhan, who is a foreign national and did not want to be identified, yesterday told MailOnline he feared thousands of foreign nationals are in the city unable to leave because of the Chinese government's drastic shutdown.

He told MailOnline: 'Due to the recent lock down, we all are trapped now. Several international students and workers have families here. I also have a baby. The situation is very serious here. If they keep everyone inside Wuhan I am afraid we all shall get infected.'

The man said the government is using online channels and TV programming to tell Wuhan residents to stay at home and he feared officials would be angry at insiders for sharing information with the outside world.

'People are panicked,' he added. 'It is advised by the government and university authorities not to go out, stay at home and call a hospital in case of having any symptoms.

'Yesterday the government announced the travel ban and, soon after, people rushed to the markets to buy a lot of food for the next several days. Yesterday, almost all the shops were empty and closed.

'I am in contact with a big international community in Wuhan. Everyone is panicked.

'Most of them are trying to contact their countries' embassies for help... but no significant development has been made yet.

'Everyone is panicked and wants to flee the China and go back to their countries or at least to move to a safer city in China.'

A report produced by researchers from Lancaster University in England, the University of Florida and the University of Glasgow, estimated that only one in 20 coronavirus cases are being diagnosed.

Dr Jonathan Read, a biostatistics researcher at Lancaster, wrote with colleagues: 'If no change in control or transmission happens, then we expect further outbreaks to occur in other Chinese cities, and that infections will continue to be exported to international destinations at an increasing rate.

'In 14 days' time (4 February 2020), our model predicts the number of infected people in Wuhan to be greater than 250 thousand (prediction interval, 164,602 to 351,396).'

Dr Read told MailOnline: 'The estimate we came back with was that one in 20 people becoming infected are getting detected and confirmed as cases. There is potentially a lot of people not recognised.

'This could be for a number of reasons. One that springs to mind the most, common with respiratory and flu-like viruses, is a lot of people will get sick and never seek medical help. Unless you present yourself to a doctor or a hospital you won't get counted.'

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said: 'It's winter – it's an enormous city with lots of people with cold and flu. People would realise they were feeling ill, but not that they have the coronavirus.'

And Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, added: 'If it's [the virus] relatively mild, there is potential it has been spread in people that aren't ill.

'Any infection can range from making people really sick and then causing mild flu-like symptom. We can miss a lot of the mild cases.'

The fear of infections spreading fast led to dramatic shutdowns all over China yesterday.

Shanghai Disney Resort posted on its website: 'In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and cast, Shanghai Disney Resort is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown.

'We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and... announce the reopening date upon confirmation.'

A section of the Great Wall known as the Badaling section – one of the most visited parts – is closed to tourists, Al Jazeera reports.

The following measures have been taken to control the disease's spread in and around China:
  • Beijing's Forbidden Palace, which hosts the Palace Museum, will be closed to visitors from today
  • The Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, is closed
  • A four-day carnival planned in Hong Kong, from January 25 to 28, was cancelled by the state tourism board
  • Hong Kong's Lunar New Year World Cup football tournament was called off
  • All public Lunar New Year events in Macau, home to more than half-a-million people, have been cancelled
  • Transport restrictions are reported to be in place in Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, Dangyang, Qianjiang, Chibi, Xiantao, Lichuan, Jingmen, Xianning, Yichang and Enshi

live show published Jan 26, 2020: 4th US case of coronavirus confirmed as death toll rises to 56 in China

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