Rolling coverage of the novel coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands of people in China and growing numbers abroad.
For daily updated figures on infections, deaths, and suspected cases in China and abroad, see Sixth Tone’s digital infographic here.
Chemicals in the disinfectants used during the COVID-19 epidemic have resulted in the deaths of several wild animals in the southwestern city of Chongqing, Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.
The vaporized solutions sprayed to decontaminate entire cities — as well as forests, nature reserves, farms, and zoos — have killed creatures from 17 species, including blackbirds, white-headed pheasants, gray-breasted bamboo chickens, wild boars, and weasels, among others. A total of 135 wild animals have “died abnormally” in Chongqing since the epidemic broke out, according to the report.
Experts believe that some of the wild animals were fatally poisoned by disinfectant spray, according to Xinhua. Officials in Chongqing told the state media outlet that they had buried the dead animals and disinfected the places where their deaths occurred.
COVID-19 is believed to have originated from wild animals, though scientists are still scrambling to identify the exact source of the virus. Meanwhile, China has banned the trade of wild animals during the epidemic, and cities, including Chongqing, have closed zoos and disinfected related areas as a precaution.
The children of frontline medical workers in the central Hubei province, the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic, will receive preferential treatment for educational opportunities, local authorities announced Tuesday.
Eligible primary school students will have the chance to study at “relatively high-quality” institutions, while students sitting for the high school entrance examination this year will be awarded 10 extra points, the provincial government said. The policy also grants qualifying university candidates priority when choosing their majors, a process that is usually based on grades.
The policies have drawn criticism on microblogging platform Weibo. While some argue that they would allow children to benefit from their parents’ sacrifice, others say they should also include the children of sanitation workers, reporters, and transportation workers, who are also on the front lines of the epidemic.
“Personally, I think this is unreasonable. Is it the other students’ fault that they were not born in a medical worker’s household?” one Weibo user wrote. “Policies should just benefit the frontline medical workers themselves, rather than the next generation,” wrote another.
Wuhan is planning to convert more public and private facilities into temporary “shelter hospitals” for novel coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, local media reported Monday.
To ease the burden on its overcrowded permanent hospitals, Wuhan is expected to add 10 more shelter hospitals providing 11,465 extra beds. One of the projects will convert a factory into the city’s largest shelter hospital, expected to accommodate some 3,000 patients.
Wuhan began converting large public venues — including exhibition centers and sports arenas — into shelter hospitals earlier this month. The three currently in use can accommodate around 3,400 patients. As of Monday, there were 46 designated COVID-19 hospitals in Wuhan with over 18,800 beds, treating 18,039 patients, a senior health official said.
A view of a temporary “shelter hospital” in Wuhan, Hubei province, Feb. 12, 2020. Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua
Fourteen of the more than 300 Americans evacuated from a cruise liner under quarantine in Japanese waters have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, U.S. authorities said Monday.
Some 3,500 passengers and crew members were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus. So far, 454 people have been infected aboard the cruise liner that has been anchored near the Japanese port of Yokohama since Feb. 3.
The U.K. has said it plans to evacuate the 70 Britons stranded on the ship, while a plane chartered by the Canadian government has already left Japan to bring its citizens from the Diamond Princess home.
Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s health minister, said Tuesday that all passengers who have tested negative will be allowed to leave the ship by Friday, according to national media.
China’s most important annual political meetings, the “two sessions,” may be postponed amid the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The potential move was proposed Monday by Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. A final decision will come later.
At the lower rungs of government, many provincial- and city-level two sessions had already been postponed — in the southwestern Sichuan province, the northern city of Hohhot, and Wenzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province, among other places.
The two sessions, or lianghui in Chinese, are the annual meetings of China’s top legislative body and top political advisory body in Beijing. They generally begin in March and last for two weeks, during which some 3,000 delegates approve new laws and policies.
A delegate enters the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to attend a meeting during the “two sessions,” March 8, 2018. EPA/Roman Pilipey/IC
Favipiravir, an experimental antiviral drug, has become the first pharmaceutical product approved in China for treating the novel coronavirus.
China’s National Medical Products Administration approved the drug on Saturday, and a company called Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical began producing it the following day, according to The Beijing News.
Zhang Xinmin, director of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said during a press conference Saturday that favipiravir showed positive results in clinical trials involving 70 human subjects in Shenzhen, with minimal side effects.
On Feb. 11, the head of Zhejiang Hisun’s medical department said in an interview that because clinical trials of favipiravir had only just begun and the sample size is still limited, more research will be necessary.
Originally designed by Fuji Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. in Japan, favipiravir has been used to effectively treat other viral diseases including Ebola and rabies.
The government of Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, has issued strict new regulations aimed at preventing the further spread of the virus that has killed over 1,300 people in the city alone.
According to the notice Monday, any public places that “must be open” to meet basic needs will introduce a “QR code registration system.” Though the notice did not go into detail, the system will likely require people entering such places to scan a code with their government-registered phones, allowing the authorities to monitor their movements.
Nonessential public spaces including parks, movie theaters, and religious buildings will remain closed, the notice said, and face masks and temperature checks will be required to access ones that are open.
At pharmacies, meanwhile, anyone hoping to purchase medicine for treating cough or fever must provide their government ID number, current address, and an emergency contact, with all such data being reported to the government.
The autopsies of two patients who died of the novel coronavirus over a month ago were completed Sunday, according to multiple Chinese media reports.
After family members of the deceased gave their consent and authorities gave their approval, the two autopsies were carried out at Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, one of the medical facilities designated for treating the city’s COVID-19 patients. The results of the postmortems are expected to be revealed in around 10 days.
Liu Liang, a professor of forensic medicine at Tongji Medical College who supervised the autopsies, told The Beijing News that the procedures could help scientists and health professionals better understand the virus and how to treat it.
“We need to figure out how it causes pneumonia, (and causes fluctuations in) the number of lymphocytes and leukocytes, through autopsies,” Liu said. “That’s how future diagnoses stand to benefit.”
During the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, clinical pathology studies were completed within 20 days of the first death, providing valuable insights into how to diagnose and treat the virus.
In a separate interview Friday, Liu had said that the reason the first COVID-19 autopsies were coming so late — nearly 40 days after the first of the two subjects died on Jan. 9 — was because no suitable facility had been available and local authorities had not given the green light.
Hospitals in Wuhan are urging patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood, as it may contain antibodies capable of fighting the coronavirus.
At a press conference Thursday, Zhang Dingyu, the director of Jinyintan Hospital, said the facility was in the process of collecting plasma from recovered patients after a preliminary experiment showed encouraging results.
“The recovered patients have a large number of integrated antibodies against the virus,” Zhang said. “I hope that patients who have recovered will donate plasma and help patients who are still struggling with the disease.”
In its latest treatment plan released Feb. 8, China’s National Health Commission had also recommended plasma therapy for patients in severe or critical condition.
In a statement Thursday, China National Biotech Group said it had developed natural plasma products for treating patients in critical condition. More than 10 critically ill patients in Wuhan have already received plasma therapy, with their symptoms improving 12 to 24 hours later, according to the company.
At a press conference Friday, the National Health Commission’s Vice Minister Zeng Yixin said that as of Tuesday, 1,716 confirmed cases of medical staff becoming infected with the novel coronavirus had been reported nationwide, accounting for 3.8% of all confirmed cases in the country. Six of the infected medical workers had died, Zeng said.
The central Hubei province — where the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan is located — had reported the most infections among medical workers, with the province’s 1,502 cases accounting for 87.5% of the total. Wuhan alone has 1,102 infected medical workers, according to Zeng.
A medical worker at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, Feb. 13, 2020. Yuan Zheng for Sixth Tone
This is the first time Chinese health authorities have made information about infections among health care workers public. A week ago, the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor who was punished for trying to raise the alarm about a mysterious pneumonia that he would ultimately contract himself, sent a shockwave of sorrow and anger across the country.
Baidu on Thursday released an open-source code that the Chinese internet company claims can use artificial intelligence technology to pick out and identify people who aren’t wearing face masks in public, as is now widely required.
According to domestic media, companies and individuals may use Baidu’s AI model for free to develop their own software. The model is said to be capable of identifying maskless people in crowded public areas with 96.5% accuracy.
In a bid to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, many Chinese cities have mandated that people must wear masks in public places, as the virus is believed to spread between humans through coughs, sneezes, and other bodily functions that release contaminated droplets into the air that others might breathe in.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has tapped Shanghai’s mayor to become the top government official in Hubei province, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
The province’s former party secretary, Jiang Chaoliang, will “no longer” hold that position, and will be replaced by Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong, according to Xinhua. It wasn’t clear, however, if Jiang had been dismissed, and no specific reason was given for the reshuffle.
“The adjustment is a thorough and careful decision made by the Central Committee based on the needs of the epidemic prevention and control work and the leadership team in Hubei province, in consideration of the overall situation,” said Wu Yuliang, deputy minister of the central committee’s Organization Department.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Hubei government officials have faced severe public criticism over their handling of the public health crisis. Earlier this week, two top officials from Hubei’s health commission were also removed from their posts. And in late January, the director of the health commission in the province’s city of Huanggang was dismissed due to “negligence on local epidemic prevention and control” after failing to answer a reporter’s question about the situation.
China’s education ministry said Wednesday that it will launch an online teaching program, as schools nationwide have pushed back the start of the new semester due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
An English teacher gives a livestreamed lecture at Lushan International Experimental School in Changsha, Hunan province, Feb. 10, 2020. Xinhua
The online program, which covers teaching resources from primary to high school, will be accessible starting Feb. 17, according to the ministry. The education authority will also launch a television channel the same day to reach more students in rural parts of the country, where computers may not be easily accessible.
Earlier this month, education officials across China had announced plans to delay the start of the semester to mid-February or March. Officials also said that they’re currently “researching” whether the college entrance exams — gaokao — should take place as scheduled in June.
A city in the central Hubei province, the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic, will implement wartime measures in one of its districts to contain the spread of the virus, according to an official announcement Wednesday.
Shiyan’s municipal district of Zhangwan went into full lockdown mode at midnight Thursday and will remain under lockdown for at least two weeks, depending on how the outbreak situation develops. Under the new regulations, all buildings will be temporarily locked, and the district’s 415,000 residents — with the exception of medical workers and government officials involved in public service — will not be allowed to leave their homes.
“From now on, let’s all stay at home for another 14 days,” said Xiao Xu, the district’s deputy head. “Let’s avoid long-term pain by taking short-term pain … and continue to achieve the ultimate victory in the fight against the epidemic.”
According to the announcement, the local government will regularly distribute supplies on a “fixed-type and fixed-price” basis for the district’s residents, and all private transportation in the district has been banned.
Shiyan, which is about 440 kilometers from the provincial capital of Wuhan and borders the provinces of Henan and Shaanxi, as well as the municipality of Chongqing, has 562 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of Thursday, only one person in the city had died from the illness.
Two months after the first coronavirus infections, the World Health Organization on Tuesday announced that the illness caused by the virus will be called COVID-19.
“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” he continued. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
On Saturday, China’s National Health Commission said it had provisionally named the illness novel coronavirus pneumonia, or NCP. Based on the virus’ qualities, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses had also referred to it as SARS-CoV-2, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
A new test kit developed in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen claims it can tell whether a person has the novel coronavirus in just 22 minutes, according to domestic media reports.
Jointly developed by Shenzhen University, Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital, and Shenzhen Tisenc Medical Devices Co. Ltd., the test is currently awaiting fast-tracked approval from the National Medical Products Administration.
The new Shenzhen-developed coronavirus test that can diagnose a person in just 22 minutes. From @深圳新闻网 on Weibo
The new diagnostic tool requires a blood sample rather than a mucus sample, reducing the risk of medical staff becoming infected, according to reports. Processing the tests in a lab is also said to be simpler than for previous products.
The current widely used nucleic acid tests require samples of a person’s mucus, taken from their upper respiratory tract. Because the novel coronavirus can be spread through coughing and sneezing, among other transmission routes, there is a high risk of medical staff becoming infected while administering the current tests. Meanwhile, getting results can take over an hour.
In many cities, there are far more patients waiting to be tested than there are test kits available — and the current tests may not be foolproof. Zhao Jianping, the director of Tongji Hospital of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, has suggested that a negative result from a nucleic acid test does not necessarily mean the person isn’t infected.
The government of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has the authority to commandeer people’s homes for the purpose of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, local authorities said Tuesday.
Private property — including homes, vehicles, and most anything else — can be “legally requisitioned” by the government for coronavirus prevention and control, according to a notice approved by Guangzhou’s top policymaking body, the standing committee of the city’s people’s congress.
“Compensation for requisitions should be disbursed according to the law,” the notice said. “Once it has been used, property should be returned in a timely manner.”
Local and provincial governments across China have had to think creatively to cope with shortages of hospital beds during the current epidemic. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, built two pop-up hospitals in as many weeks, and has converted several public venues such as exhibition centers into “shelter hospitals” for patients with relatively mild symptoms.
Student dorms at four Wuhan universities have also been turned into quarantine sites for patients in stable condition. Some of these schools have been accused of failing to give students enough time to clear out their belongings.
Another 40 people, including a quarantine officer who was surveying passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Japan’s health ministry said in two statements Wednesday. There are now 175 total cases aboard the vessel.
Medical workers walk down a hallway on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan, Feb. 6, 2020. Xinhua
“Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive,” local media quoted Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, as saying. “At this point, we have confirmed that four people among those who are hospitalised are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit.”
The cruise ship with at least 2,500 passengers on board has been under quarantine in the port of Yokohama for a week after an 80-year-old passenger was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection on Jan. 25 upon disembarking in Hong Kong.
Two top officials from Hubei’s health commission have been dismissed from their posts as the death toll of the coronavirus epidemic originating in the central Chinese province surpassed 1,000, state broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday.
The commission’s director, Zhang Jin, and party secretary, Liu Yingzi, were dismissed during a meeting of the Hubei standing committee, the province’s top policymaking body, on Monday. CCTV’s report did not give a reason for the dismissals.
Both Zhang and Liu were appointed to their positions in November 2018. Since the coronavirus was exposed as a public health emergency, Liu has attended just one press conference, while Zhang has made virtually no public appearances, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper.
As of Tuesday, the novel coronavirus had killed over 1,000 people and infected at least 42,000. Since news of the outbreak first surfaced in early January, Hubei government officials have faced mounting criticism for their handling of the crisis, from failure to disclose the public health risk early to failure to stop the virus from spreading beyond Wuhan.
Zhang and Liu aren’t the first Hubei officials to face punishment. On Jan. 30, the director of the health commission in Huanggang, a city in Hubei with one of the highest infection rates outside Wuhan, was dismissed after failing to answer a reporter’s question about the city’s epidemic situation. Meanwhile, officials in other provincial-level administrative regions including Hebei, Tianjin, Hunan, and Zhejiang have also been punished for misconduct stemming from coronavirus-related duties.
Another 65 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for novel coronavirus pneumonia on Monday, according to Japan’s health ministry, bringing the total number of infections about the vessel to 135.
Japan has so far tested 439 passengers and crew, yielding an infection rate of just over 30%. If the Diamond Princess were a sovereign state, it would have the most coronavirus cases of any country other than China.
While the high infection rate is cause for concern, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said it would be difficult to test all of the passengers and crew, so elderly people and those who have the virus will be prioritized for medical attention. Over 2,500 passengers were aboard the Diamond Princess, according to media reports.
On Jan. 25, an 80-year-old passenger from Hong Kong was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection, leading to the ship being quarantined at the port of Yokohama since Feb. 3. Barring extenuating circumstances, the quarantine is expected to be lifted Feb. 19, according to Japan’s health commission.
All passengers who remain quarantined in Yokohama will receive full refunds, tour operator Princess Cruises said Sunday.
Business in China’s largest cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing resumed Monday following an extension to the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Ahead of the work week, local governments imposed regulations to prevent the coronavirus from spreading through their urban centers. On the Shanghai subway, for example, temperature checks and masks are mandatory: A man was detained Friday for rushing into a station without the required facial protection.
Office buildings have also imposed stricter checks to avoid infections. At the Yinghua International Plaza, an office space in Shanghai, anyone entering the premises must register their name, travel history, and government-issued ID number. Individuals with temperatures above 37.3 degrees Celsius or recent travel history to Hubei province, where the coronavirus originated, are not allowed to enter the building, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper.
People wear face masks in public on the first official working day after the extended Spring Festival break, Shanghai, Feb. 10, 2020. Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone
On Sunday, Shanghai officials encouraged employers to stagger and reduce workers’ office hours, as well as allow people to work remotely.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced several measures aimed at helping small- and medium-sized businesses stay afloat during the epidemic-induced downturn, including encouraging local governments to allocate special financial assistance funds and reducing interest rates on loans.
Seventeen member companies of the China Association for Vaccines are working toward developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus pneumonia that has so far killed over 900 people globally.
In a statement Sunday, the association said the companies had begun researching a vaccine but gave no further details, such as budget or timeline.
While Chinese health authorities have recommended certain antiviral drugs to mitigate the novel coronavirus’ symptoms, there is currently no officially approved treatment or vaccine. Last week, the country’s National Health Commission expressed hopes that effective treatments could come from a combination of Western and traditional Chinese medicine.
Also last week, the head of coronavirus vaccine research at Imperial College London announced that his team is expecting to start early animal testing and then proceed to human studies “in a period of few months.”
In mid-January, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an Oslo-based global partnership for preventing and containing infectious disease outbreaks, announced the launch of three programs to develop vaccines for the novel coronavirus. The coalition’s CEO, Richard Hatchett, said that the group hopes “to bring a new pathogen from gene sequence to clinical testing (of a new vaccine) in 16 weeks.”
Health and epidemic prevention experts have determined that aerosol transmission is among the ways the novel coronavirus can be spread, Zeng Qun, the deputy head of Shanghai’s civil affairs bureau, said at a news briefing Saturday.
Aerosol transmission entails tiny droplets of a pathogen becoming suspended in the air and inhaled, and can occur even if an infectious person is not in close proximity.
In its latest treatment plan issued Feb. 4, China’s National Health Commission said that, while confirmed transmission routes included droplet transmission — when large droplets from an infected patient’s sneezes or coughs are inhaled — and contact with contaminated surfaces, aerosol transmission had not been confirmed.
Health experts have also suggested the possibility of neonatal transmission. On Wednesday, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported that the day-old child of a mother carrying the novel coronavirus had tested positive, too.
A young couple embrace on the subway platform at South Shaanxi Road Station in Shanghai, Feb. 6, 2020. Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone
However, some experts argue that it’s still too early to confirm aerosol transmission. In an interview Saturday with The Paper, Shen Yinzhong, director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center’s medical department, said that while the coronavirus can become attached to aerosols “in theory,” confirming this as a means of transmission requires further research.
Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended that medical staff treating coronavirus patients “use caution when performing aerosol-generating procedures” such as intubations.
“When a patient is out of breath and noninvasive oxygen provision fails, we must apply intubation,” Peng Zhiyong, an ICU doctor at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told Caixin in an interview. “The procedure is dangerous, as the patient may vomit or spit. Medical staff are likely to be exposed to the danger of infection.”
In a press conference Saturday, the National Health Commission said the illness that has now killed over 800 people in China has been provisionally named “novel coronavirus pneumonia,” or NCP.
Last month, the World Health Organization recommended “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” as the interim nomenclature. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses — the body responsible for giving a new virus its formal name — has yet to weigh in.
In the absence of an official name, some online still refer to the pathogen as the “Wuhan coronavirus” or “China virus,” indirectly contributing to already-pervasive stigmas surrounding people from Wuhan and Hubei domestically, and Chinese people internationally. Earlier this month, the Chinese Embassy in Germany criticized the German news magazine Der Spiegel for running a front-page graphic with the words “coronavirus made in China.”
On Friday, 558 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in areas outside the central Hubei province, a fourth consecutive decrease from the previous day. Meanwhile, in the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan, the mortality rate has dropped from 4.9% to 4.1% — still far higher than elsewhere in Hubei, where the mortality rate is down to 1.3%.
Zhao Jianping, the director of Tongji Hospital of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, said Friday that positive nucleic acid tests likely account for just 30-40% of all coronavirus cases, and that negative test results should not preclude the possibility of infection.
“When the lymphocyte level in a patient's blood drops and pneumonia sets in, these patients must be treated under the assumption that they have the novel coronavirus,” Zhao said at a press conference. “Once these patients are admitted (to a hospital), they will not be overlooked because of a negative test.”
An American citizen died Thursday in Wuhan, according to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Though little has been disclosed about the victim apart from their age — around 60 — people familiar with the matter told The New York Times that she was a woman with underlying health conditions.
The following day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the country would spend up to $100 million to combat the novel coronavirus in China and other affected countries. According to an official statement, the U.S. State Department has already sent 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies — including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials — to China.
The announcement comes after days of complaints from China’s foreign ministry and state-owned media about the U.S.’s alleged inaction in helping China fight the coronavirus. However, a New York Times report Friday revealed that repeated offers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to send expert teams to China to observe and assist with the coronavirus treatment and containment efforts have gone unheeded by Beijing.
In a phone call Friday with U.S. President Donald Trump, China’s leader Xi Jinping said the country has been making an “all-out effort” to fight the coronavirus, and that “WHO and other experts” had been invited to conduct “field visits” in Wuhan.
A novel coronavirus study at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University said that nosocomial — or hospital-acquired — infection was suspected in 41% of 138 patients evaluated.
The paper, published Friday in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that around one-quarter of the 138 patients required intensive care. Just over one-third were discharged after a median hospital stay of 10 days, and 4.3% died — roughly in line with previously estimated mortality rates in Wuhan.
A medical worker checks on a patient at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, Feb. 3, 2020. Zhang Chang/CNS
The median age of the 138 patients was 56 years old, and 54.3% were men. Their most common symptoms were fever, fatigue, and dry cough.
“Presumed hospital-related transmission was suspected if a cluster of health professionals or hospitalized patients in the same wards became infected and a possible source of infection could be tracked,” wrote the 14 authors, all physicians at Zhongnan Hospital.
At a press conference Friday, renowned epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, one of the leaders behind China’s efforts to contain the coronavirus, said that the current epidemic has yet to reach its turning point, and that the key moving forward will be to aim for “early detection and early quarantine.” This is the second time Zhong has walked back his own predictions of when the epidemic will reach its peak.
“I think it will be a few days before this turning point comes,” Zhong said, adding that new cases are the “most critical” indicator. “Now, it seems that the number of new cases is not continuing to increase significantly, which is a good thing. The number of new cases will not rise too much, but Wuhan may be different from other places.”
On Jan. 28, Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had told state broadcaster CCTV that he expected the situation to improve by the Lantern Festival holiday on Feb. 8, based on “current prevention and control measures.”
Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who is believed to be one of eight people reprimanded by police in early January for “spreading rumors” about a new SARS-like virus, died early Friday morning at the age of 34.
“During the fight against the pneumonia, Li unfortunately became infected with the novel coronavirus,” read an announcement from Wuhan Central Hospital, where Li worked and was receiving treatment. “An all-out rescue failed. He passed away at 2:58 a.m on Feb. 7, 2020.”
An outpouring of grief from the Chinese public followed, with people online expressing their gratitude to Li for trying to warn others about the outbreak, as well as their anger over Li facing punishment in the first place.
Many have implored the Wuhan government to apologize for the way the doctor was treated, and to see that his elderly parents, who were hospitalized in January with pneumonia-like symptoms, and pregnant wife are taken care of.
Medical staff pay their respects to Li Wenliang by bowing to the door of his ward at Wuhan Central Hospital, Hubei province, February 2020. From @第一财经日报 on Weibo
“I hope there are no official reprimands in heaven. R.I.P., hero,” read one representative online comment.
Li announced that he was infected with the coronavirus in a Feb. 1 post on microblogging platform Weibo. In the comment section below the post, Zhang Ruoyun, an actor in a popular TV drama Li had been watching, wrote that he wished the doctor a speedy recovery.
Li’s lighthearted reply belied the gravity of his condition. “Thanks! I’m really looking forward to Season 2,” he wrote.
Sixty-one people on a cruise liner have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Japan’s health ministry said Friday. The Diamond Princess, currently docked at Yokohama, reportedly has around 3,700 passengers on board.
An 80-year-old passenger from Hong Kong was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection on Jan. 25 after disembarking from the vessel, prompting Japanese authorities to impose a full quarantine when the ship reached the country on Feb. 3.
A total of 273 people who either showed symptoms or had close contact with the sick Hong Kong patient were checked by Japanese medical staff. The cruise staff and tourists will remain quarantined aboard the vessel for 14 days.
A screenshot shows the quarantined cruise liner Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama, Japan. The Paper
Japan had reported 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Thursday, but the recent diagnoses on the cruise liner would bring the new total to 86 — the most of any country outside China. However, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato said that the 61 cases will not count toward the national total, as the sick passengers tested positive before arriving in Japan, according to local media.
The infected passengers will be treated at hospitals in several Japanese cities. None of the 41 patients are believed to be in critical condition.
The pangolin has been identified as a potential intermediate host of the novel coronavirus that has so far killed more than 600 people in China and infected over 31,000 more, according to a new study from South China Agricultural University.
At a press conference Friday, the research team explained that full genome sequencing of a coronavirus found in pangolins had revealed that it was 99% identical to the virus responsible for the current epidemic among humans.
A smuggled pangolin confiscated by police peeks its head through the bars of its cage in Kunming, Yunnan province, Jan. 22, 2014. Lang Xiaowei/VCG
Pangolins hold Level 2 protected status in China and are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Said to be the most trafficked animal in the world, the pangolin is often killed for its scales, which are sometimes used in traditional Chinese medicines, as well as for its meat.
Anyone who kills a pangolin in China can face between five and 10 years in prison, or even harsher penalties in severe cases, according to the country’s criminal law.
Anyone concealing coronavirus-related information should expect to be blacklisted, Shanghai’s top policymakers said Friday.
According to an announcement from the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People’s Congress, failing to disclose one’s history of illness, travel, or personal contact, as well as attempting to avoid quarantine, may be reported to the city’s online personal credit platform, in addition to possible legal punishment.
Several governments including those of Henan, Shandong, and Fujian provinces have summoned people who concealed their health or travel histories from authorities seeking to assess coronavirus risk.
Elsewhere in China, the high court of the northeastern Heilongjiang province said on Jan. 31 that people “who intentionally transmit the coronavirus pathogen” may face the death penalty, and that those who refuse to be quarantined or treated can face up to seven years in prison.
A frontline doctor said the diagnostic criteria health authorities set in early stages of the novel coronavirus epidemic were too stringent and “endangered society,” financial news outlet Caixin reported Wednesday.
Peng Zhiyong, an intensive care unit doctor at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, was one of the first doctors to voice epidemic concerns to local health authorities.
Peng’s hospital admitted its first infected patient on Jan. 6 and established a quarantine area. The number of infected patients then rose to 16 within four days — so quickly that Peng and his colleagues suspected human-to-human transmission and reported this to Wuhan’s health commission.
A medical worker in full protective gear attends to a patient at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Hubei province, Jan. 23, 2020. Zheng Chaoyuan and Wei Jiaming for Sixth Tone
According to Peng, the criteria the commission had set in order to confirm a new case — exposure to the South China Seafood Wholesale Market, fever, and a positive nucleic acid test — were too strict.
“Very few people would get diagnosed based on those criteria. The head of our hospital told them this multiple times during this period. I know other hospitals were doing the same,” Peng told Caixin. “You had to meet all three criteria in order to be diagnosed. The third one was especially stringent. In reality, very few people were able to test for a virus.”
Wuhan’s health commission maintained that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission until Jan. 21, at least three weeks into the epidemic, when renowned scientist Zhong Nanshan told state broadcaster China Central Television that such transmission was “definite.” On Jan. 31, Ma Guoqiang, Wuhan’s party secretary, said in an interview that he felt “guilty and ashamed” for how the outbreak had been handled.
“If I had been decisive and taken strict measures earlier, the results would have been better than they are now,” Ma said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wuhan did not rise until a second team of infectious disease experts from Beijing visited the city and changed the criteria, Peng said.
Authorities in Dali, a city in the southwestern Yunnan province, have apologized for confiscating face masks that were en route to Chongqing to protect against the spread of coronavirus there.
In a statement Thursday, Dali’s health authority said it had intercepted the shipment of 598 boxes of masks “in order to meet the urgent need” of its own residents. The health authority has paid 990,300 yuan ($142,000) in compensation, according to its statement, and will return the withheld masks. The intended recipient of the masks in Chongqing remains unknown.
The Dali government’s actions made headlines after a photo of a Feb. 2 notice to confiscate the masks went viral online. On Thursday, the Yunnan provincial government published a notice reprimanding the Dali city government, saying the requisition had “seriously affected our brother province’s epidemic control work and hurt the feelings of our brother province’s people.”
A day-old infant has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Wednesday. The baby — whose mother carries the virus — returned a positive nucleic acid test at Wuhan Children’s Hospital.
“We want to advise the public of a possible new means of transmission for the coronavirus, that being neonatal transmission,” Zeng Lingkong, chief physician at Wuhan Children’s Hospital, told The Paper.
“Our hospital has delivered many newborns from infectious mothers: Some of them tested negative for the nucleic acid, while two cases have tested positive,” Zeng said. The nanny of the other infected newborn, now 18 days old, is believed to have transmitted the virus to the baby’s parents, though it is unclear how the infant got sick.
The possibility of neonatal transmission had been suggested by medical professionals prior to these cases. Chen Zhimin, a specialist physician at the Zhejiang University medical school’s children’s hospital, said in a press conference Jan. 31 that neonatal transmission of the coronavirus could not be ruled out.
On Jan. 31, the child of an infected woman was born healthy in the northeastern city of Harbin, testing negative for the coronavirus, according to local media.
At least 65 people in China died Tuesday of the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll in the country to 490, according to official data.
Outside of the Chinese mainland, two more deaths have been reported in Hong Kong and the Philippines, while confirmed coronavirus infections have been reported in some two dozen countries worldwide.
More than 3,800 people on the Chinese mainland tested positive for the virus on Tuesday alone, bringing the total number of infections to 24,324. As of Tuesday, 892 people had recovered, while over 23,000 suspected cases are still awaiting diagnosis.
The mortality rate of the novel coronavirus on the Chinese mainland stands at 2.1%, a top health official said Tuesday.
Jiao Yahui, deputy head of medical administration at the National Health Commission, said during a press conference Tuesday that, although the national fatality rate had dropped from 2.3% in the early stages of the epidemic, casualties remain higher where the infections are most concentrated.
In the epicenter of Wuhan, the mortality rate is 4.9% — higher than elsewhere in Hubei province, where the central city is located. So far, 97% of all coronavirus deaths in China have been in Hubei. If the province were to be excluded from national data, however, the coronavirus’ mortality rate would be less than 1%.
It’s still too early in the epidemic to put much stock in preliminary mortality data, however, and there are concerns that the death toll in China may be misleading since patients with coronavirus-like symptoms who die before being tested are not counted toward the official total.
“The reason the fatality rate in Wuhan is so much higher than in the rest of the region (of Hubei) is because, in the early stages of the outbreak, there were only three designated hospitals with 110 beds for patients who were critically ill, which was far from sufficient,” Jiao said. “This led to some critically ill patients being treated in 20 additional hospitals … some of which lacked professional medical teams specializing in critical care.”
People who “intentionally transmit the coronavirus pathogen” may face the death penalty, according to a court in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province.
In a notice Monday, the Heilongjiang High People’s Court also said that individuals who “refuse to be tested, quarantined, or treated” may be sentenced to up to seven years in prison, while those who “fabricate or intentionally spread rumors” could receive up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
According to the court, the announcement is intended to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed nearly 500 people and infected over 24,000 others in China. The punishments are consistent with the country’s criminal law, the court said.
On Wednesday, police in the eastern city of Weifang summoned a person surnamed Zhang for “deliberately hiding travel history and contact with infectious people.” Zhang had traveled outside Weifang to meet with several people but did not disclose these details with doctors and community workers after testing positive for the coronavirus.
A total of 68 medical staff, as well as 49 people who were in contact with Zhang in Weifang, have been quarantined. Zhang, too, has been quarantined, and police said they have “taken relevant measures” against the suspect, without elaborating.
At least 64 people in China died of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the death toll in the country to 425, according to official data.
On Tuesday morning, Hong Kong’s hospital authority confirmed the city’s first coronavirus death, with a 39-year-old male patient becoming the second casualty outside the Chinese mainland. A 44-year-old Chinese man had died from the novel coronavirus in the Philippines on Feb. 2.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, there were 20,472 people in China infected with the novel coronavirus plus over 23,000 suspected cases nationwide, according to the National Health Commission. After China, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore have the most confirmed cases.
Authorities in Wuhan are planning to convert three of the city’s large venues into temporary medical facilities, similar to measures taken during past national emergencies such as earthquakes, local media reported Tuesday.
The so-called shelter hospitals at Hongshan Stadium, Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center, and the “Wuhan Livingroom” cultural complex are expected to receive coronavirus patients who are in relatively stable condition, according to the report. Together, they will aim to provide beds for many of the city’s 6,000 confirmed cases.
× 1/6 An aerial view of the temporary “shelter hospital” at Hongshan Stadium in Wuhan, Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo 2/6 An aerial view of the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo 3/6 Workers prepare patients’ beds at the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo 4/6 Workers are busy converting the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center into a temporary “shelter hospital,” Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo 5/6 One area of the temporary “shelter hospital” at Hongshan Stadium in Wuhan, Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo 6/6 Workers prepare patients’ beds at the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
1/6 An aerial view of the temporary “shelter hospital” at Hongshan Stadium in Wuhan, Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
2/6 An aerial view of the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
3/6 Workers prepare patients’ beds at the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
4/6 Workers are busy converting the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center into a temporary “shelter hospital,” Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
5/6 One area of the temporary “shelter hospital” at Hongshan Stadium in Wuhan, Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
6/6 Workers prepare patients’ beds at the temporary “shelter hospital” at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center in Hubei province. Feb. 4, 2020. From @湖北日报 on Weibo
Meanwhile, Huoshenshan Hospital — a temporary quarantine hospital built in just 10 days — accepted its first group of coronavirus patients from other hospitals on Tuesday morning. Construction on another temporary quarantine facility, the 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital, is expected to finish Wednesday.
In addition to the three makeshift facilities announced Monday, at least three more shelter hospitals are expected to be organized soon to cope with the increasing number of coronavirus infections in Wuhan, according to local media.
Individuals and companies have donated over 17.2 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) to fight the coronavirus that has killed more than 400 people and infected over 20,000 others, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Monday.
The vast majority of the amount came from around 1,000 donors, according to the report, which cited data from the China Charity Alliance, a government-backed nonprofit. Donations from companies in the country accounted for 14 billion yuan, social organizations contributed 1.6 billion yuan, and the remaining amount came from individuals and other small-scale donors.
Hubei’s provincial government said that as of Saturday, it had received over 6.9 billion yuan, of which nearly 3 billion yuan had been specifically allocated for Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The province has also received millions of items of donated medical equipment including face masks and disposable coveralls.
Despite such charitable efforts, hospitals in Wuhan and surrounding cities have said they still lack necessary protective gear and are appealing for more online donations.
On Tuesday, the discipline inspection commission of Hubei, where Wuhan is located, dismissed the deputy head of the provincial Red Cross Society for “misconduct” after the group reportedly distributed 3,000 protective masks to a frontline hospital and 18,000 masks to hospitals not treating coronavirus patients, and then offered an unconvincing explanation as to why.
As China attempts to contain the novel coronavirus that, since originating in the central city of Wuhan, has spread to around two dozen countries, several foreign governments have introduced travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus that so far has infected over 20,000 people.
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Monday that the “excessive measures” imposed by some countries, especially the United States, were an “overreaction” to the epidemic, and ran counter to the recommendation of the World Health Organization.
On Jan. 30, the WHO had declared the novel coronavirus epidemic a global public health emergency, though its chief said the organization “doesn’t recommend any travel or trade restriction (involving China) based on the current information available.”
The United States, Australia, and Singapore were among the first countries to respond to the coronavirus crisis with travel advisories, warning their citizens not to travel to China and banning foreigners from entry if they have been in China in the past 14 days.
In Asia, Japan and South Korea have said they will bar foreign nationals who have visited Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus, from entering the country.
From Friday, Taiwan will ban all non-residents who have visited the Chinese mainland in the last 14 days.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has prohibited all foreigners arriving from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao, as well as anyone who has visited these places in the last 14 days.
India is cancelling visas already issued to Chinese nationals and to other foreigners who have visited China in the last 14 days. India is also suspending its e-visa application for Chinese citizens and foreigners in China.
As of Tuesday, over 30 airlines had suspended flights to or from China due to the coronavirus epidemic, according to Reuters.
The Chinese team researching the novel coronavirus has learned more about the pathogen that has killed over 400 people and infected thousands worldwide.
Jiang Mengrong, a member of the expert team assembled by the National Health Commission, said during Monday’s press briefingthe team had discovered that the novel coronavirus can survive for up to five days in conditions of 20 degrees Celcius and 40% humidity.
Jiang reiterated that the coronavirus can be transmitted by touching infected surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. A test Monday of the door handle of an infectious patient’s room revealed 2019-nCoV nucleic acids, indicating the presence of the virus.
Qiu Haibo, another member of the team of experts, said there are several outcome scenarios for people with the virus. Those with robust immune systems may “self heal,” while other patients might develop upper respiratory problems without necessarily showing symptoms. Still others may experience only mild symptoms such as fever and fatigue.
At least 57 people in China died of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the death toll in the country to 361, according to official data. The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus now exceeds the number of deaths on the Chinese mainland from the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.
On Sunday, Zhong Nanshan — the renowned scientist who helped expose the scale and severity of SARS and is among the leading experts tasked with managing the current novel coronavirus response — told the official Xinhua News Agency that the coronavirus epidemic would reach its peak in 10-14 days, backtracking from his previous prediction on Jan. 28 that the epidemic would peak 7-10 days from then, or sometime this week. He did not say why he had revised his projection.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus’ suspected means of transmission have expanded from air droplets and close contact to include the fecal-oral pathway, and possibly others.
As of Sunday, a total of 17,205 people in China had tested positive for coronavirus infections, with 2,296 of them in “severe condition,” according to the National Health Commission. The commission also reported that 475 people have made have made full recoveries after becoming infected.
Groups susceptible to the novel coronavirus include children and pregnant women, China’s central government announced Sunday. Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had previously said during a Jan. 22 press conference that children were less likely to contract the virus.
On Monday, a 7-month-old baby was diagnosed with coronavirus in Shanghai, according to the city’s health commission. A week earlier, a 9-month-old girl in Beijing became infected with the virus after her mom was diagnosed. Beijing media reported Sunday that both the mother and her baby are in stable condition.
While such cases of babies and pregnant women becoming infected are concerning to many, there has not yet been evidence of neonatal transmission. On Jan. 31, the child of an infected woman was born healthy, testing negative for the coronavirus, according to local media.
In its statement Sunday, the central government called for greater attention to the two at-risk groups, and recommended that women with the coronavirus avoid breastfeeding their children.
Construction of Huoshenshan Hospital was completed Sunday and handed over to the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military. The facility — located in the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated and remains most concentrated — will begin admitting patients from Monday.
The new 34,000-square-meter hospital with 1,000 beds will exclusively treat coronavirus patients. Its amenities include air conditioning, TVs, and air purifiers, according to official reports. Patients will be assigned to different wards of the hospital depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Left: The construction site of Huoshenshan Hospital on Jan. 30, 2020; right: An interior view of a patients’ ward from the completed hospital on Feb. 2, 2020. Zhang Chang and Wang Teng/CNS
Online, some are worried that the hospital could pose an infection risk to residents living nearby, but local authorities have tried to assuage these fears, saying that the hospital is downwind from the city center of Wuhan, and that any exhaust or fumes being released from the facility will be disinfected.
To cope with the shortage of medical resources, China in late January announced plans to build two temporary hospitals to accommodate Wuhan’s growing number of coronavirus patients. The other facility, the 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital, is still under construction, though it is slated to be completed in two days.
As China grapples with the novel coronavirus that has infected over 17,000 people in the country, top scientists from around the world are contributing their expertise to help resolve the crisis.
Professor W. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University is known as one of the world’s leading “virus hunters.” On Jan. 29, he landed in the southern megacity of Guangzhou, where he was received by his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Nanshan, the leading figure behind China’s coronavirus containment strategy.
This is the second time Lipkin has traveled to China at the invitation of the central government. The previous instance was during the height of the SARS epidemic in 2003.
A collective of Nobel Prize winners is also lending support to China’s fight against the coronavirus. Since Jan. 24, Roger Kornberg, chairman of the World Laureates Association has been in contact with the world’s top virus laboratories — including the Scripps Research Institute in California, Stanford University’s biology department, and the medical sciences division at Oxford University — to share and collaborate on coronavirus research.
At least 45 people in China died of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the death toll in the country to 304, according to official data.
A 44-year-old Chinese man also died Saturday in the Philippines, becoming the first novel coronavirus casualty outside China, according to media reports. The man had traveled with his partner — the Philippines’ first confirmed coronavirus case — from Wuhan on Jan. 21.
As of Sunday morning, there had been 14,380 confirmed coronavirus infections in China, with 2,110 patients in “severe condition,” the National Health Commission said. There are now nearly 20,000 suspected cases in the country.
A total of 328 people have made full recoveries after becoming infected, according to the commission. Some 163,844 close contacts of infected people have been identified so far, with around 137,594 of them under medical observation.
As of Saturday, 9,074 cases of novel coronavirus had been reported in the central Hubei province, including 4,109 in Wuhan, where the outbreak originated. An additional 1,002 cases have been identified in Huanggang, some 75 kilometers east of Wuhan, which has the second most cases of any city.
Outside the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have reported 30 cases in total. Globally, at least 140 cases have been reported in around two dozen countries.
Authorities in at least two Chinese cities are taking drastic action to keep residents indoors and reduce the risk of infection.
To “minimize the flow of people, control the spread of the epidemic to the greatest extent, and ensure the life and health of the people,” the city of Wenzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province has, since Saturday, required households to designate just one person who may go outside and purchase any essential items, such as groceries.
Until Feb. 8, anyone else is forbidden from leaving their home except to receive medical treatment or for other extenuating circumstances, city authorities said.
As of Saturday, 661 cases of pneumonia had been reported in Zhejiang, with Wenzhou having the most such patients of any city in the province. Similar movement restrictions have also been imposed in Huanggang, the city in Hubei province with the most coronavirus infections after Wuhan.
A community worker wipes down mailboxes with disinfectant in a residential area in Shanghai, Jan. 1, 2020. Yi Chuan for Sixth Tone
The novel coronavirus can infect people through fecal-oral transmission, in addition to air droplets and close contact, according to new research from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
On Saturday, Shenzhen No. 3 People’s Hospital in the southern Guangdong province revealed that it had detected the 2019-nCoV nucleic acid in the feces of some pneumonia patients.
The novel coronavirus was also found in the feces of the first case confirmed in the United States, according to Bloomberg.
At least 46 people in China died of the novel coronavirus on Friday as the death toll in the country climbed to 259, according to official data.
As of 10 a.m. Saturday, there have been 11,791 confirmed cases, with 1,795 of them in “severe condition,” the National Health Commission said. There are currently 17,988 suspected cases in the country.
A total of 243 people have fully recovered after becoming infected, according to the commission. Some 136,987 close contacts of infected individuals have been identified so far, and 118,478 of them are under medical observation.
Outside of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have reported 29 cases in total. New cases have been confirmed in Russia and the U.K., giving at least 127 confirmed cases in 23 countries other than China.
A doctor in Wuhan who is believed to be one of the eight whistleblowers police reprimanded in early January for “spreading rumors” about a mysterious pneumonia has become infected with the coronavirus that causes it.“Today’s nucleic acid (novel coronavirus) test came back positive,” Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, wrote Saturday morning on his Weibo microblog.
On Dec. 30, Li had examined the medical report of a patient whose condition seemed strikingly similar to SARS, also caused by a coronavirus. He decided to share this discovery with his former medical school classmates so that they might take appropriate precautions. In their class WeChat group, he sent a message that read: “Seven cases of SARS confirmed.”
“After I sent the message, the police found me and made me sign an official letter of criticism,” Li recounted in a Weibo post. According to a photo of the letter, the police chastised him for “making untrue comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order.”
On Jan. 1, the Wuhan police announced on Weibo that eight people had been summoned and punished for “spreading rumors” about the city’s pneumonia patients. However, after China’s state broadcaster reported on Jan. 9 that a new type of coronavirus was responsible for the unusual number of pneumonia cases, people began to question whether the “rumormongers” had been unjustly punished. Then on Tuesday, the Supreme People’s Court criticized the Wuhan police for reprimanding the whistleblowers.
Over the past week, Chinese netizens have heaped praise and encouragement on Li and the other whistleblowers, as well as scorn and criticism on the Wuhan police for trying to silence them in the early stages of what is now an international public health crisis.
Zhang Chi is sick: His last CT scan showed that his pneumonia has spread from one lung to both. Since developing a fever and visiting a hospital on Jan. 21, Zhang still doesn’t know what’s wrong with his body. With each new hospital he visits, he is examined, prescribed medication, and told to go home.
The 39-year-old’s requests to be tested for the coronavirus are repeatedly rejected: There’s a shortage of test kits, and his comparatively mild symptoms make him a low-priority patient.
To avoid infecting his young daughter, Zhang moved out of his home and into a hotel. For over a week, he has been caught in a cycle of hospitals and community health centers, of high temperatures and normal temperatures. Now back at home with double pneumonia, Zhang is being looked after by his elderly parents.
On his last visit to a hospital on Jan. 30, Zhang received the same response as usual: “The doctor didn’t tell me when I should come back for another CT scan or how long the recovery might take,” he says. “I have no idea what’s going on.”
While it’s difficult to estimate how many people in Wuhan are facing the same challenges as Zhang, he is almost certainly not alone.
Many people in China are struggling to obtain new face masks, with demand driven up by the novel coronavirus that has spread to every provincial-level region, as well as dozens of other countries. Authorities have strongly urged — and in some cities compelled — people to cover their noses and mouths with a mask as a precaution against the virus.
Last week, Chinese health experts said disposable masks should be worn daily and changed every two to four hours, in accordance with a new guideline from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, amid dwindling supplies, some local disease control and prevention centers have recommended that people reuse disposable masks if they aren’t “wet or dirty.”
To alleviate the mask crunch, Shanghai’s city government has been collaborating with local mask manufacturers and pharmacies since Jan. 28, aiming to ensure that the supply chain to residents is not disrupted. From Saturday, the city temporarily suspended the sale of masks at pharmacies in a bid to prevent crowds and chaos. Instead, would-be customers must now register with their neighborhood committees to receive vouchers for picking up masks from designated pharmacies beginning Monday.
An influential state-run media outlet has urged Chinese consumers to think rationally after two medical institutes suggested that a common traditional Chinese medicine syrup could help “contain” the novel coronavirus, resulting in masses of people rushing to buy the product.
Shuanghuanglian, commonly used to treat sore throat and fever, does not “prevent” or “cure” the novel coronavirus, People’s Daily wrote on its Weibo microblog, suggesting that people should refrain from falling for hyped-up but dubiously effective products during public health crises.
The buying frenzy started after the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and Wuhan Institute of Virology reportedly told the official Xinhua News Agency on Friday that Shuanghuanglian, with its antiviral, bacteriostatic, and immunity-enhancing components, could “contain” the novel coronavirus.
Shuanghuanglian, a common traditional Chinese medicine syrup, became a wildly popular product overnight after two medical institutes suggested it could help “contain” the novel coronavirus. From JD.com
The following morning, people in Wuhan were seen lining up outside pharmacies to buy the syrup, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper. On Saturday, one box of Shuanghuanglian was selling at 35 yuan ($5) — a 10 yuan increase from the previous day — and customers were limited to five boxes each. The product was also sold out at many online stores.
According to the World Health Organization, there are currently no medical products that can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. Scientists around the world, including in China, are currently studying the virus and working to develop a vaccine for it, though the process could take anywhere from a few months to over a year.
Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, raised a few eyebrows Wednesday when she said that people should keep their pets away from “virus sources,” as the novel coronavirus is transmitted between mammals, in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television.
However, in a post the same day on microblogging platform Weibo, the World Health Organization, stated that there is no evidence of the coronavirus being carried or transmitted by dogs or cats.
Nonetheless, some communities across China are tightening control on pets in public for fear that the animals might cause panic.
Several districts in the city of Weifang, in the eastern Shandong province, have issued a blanket ban on dog-walking in public to “effectively prevent and control the epidemic, cut off the transmission path of the virus, prevent the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the health and personal safety of the people.”
Meanwhile, a district in Taiyuan, a city in the northern Shanxi province, is requiring that all dogs be kept either indoors or tethered outside from Friday on, forbidding owners from taking them for walks at any time.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China sent chartered flights to Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan to pick up stranded Wuhan residents and return them to the city, state broadcaster China Central Television reported Friday.
The third flight, from Tokyo, was scheduled to land at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 5:50 a.m. Saturday. The three chartered flights repatriated over 300 passengers from Wuhan.
As of Friday evening, over 30 international airlines — including major U.S. carriers Delta, United, and American — had suspended flights to China because of concerns over the coronavirus epidemic.
At least 43 people in China died of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the overall death toll to 213, according to official data.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, there had been over 9,700 confirmed cases, with some 1,500 of them “severe,” the National Health Commission said. There are currently over 15,000 suspected coronavirus cases in the country.
Around 170 people have fully recovered after becoming infected, according to the commission. Health authorities have identified 113,579 close contacts of people infected with the virus and placed 102,427 of them under medical observation.
Outside the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have reported 28 cases in total. With new cases reported in Italy, the Philippines, and India, there are now at least 100 confirmed cases in 19 countries other than China.
The World Health Organization has finally determined that the novel coronavirus first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern.”
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said at a press conference following an emergency meeting Thursday.
The WHO said that as of Friday, 18 countries other than China had confirmed 98 coronavirus cases, which the organization has provisionally named “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease.” At least eight of these cases — in Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States — are believed to have been transmitted between humans.
“Let me be clear: this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak,” the WHO chief said, adding that the organization “does not recommend any travel or trade restriction (involving China) based on the current information available.”
There are currently over 9,700 confirmed novel coronavirus infections in China, with 213 deaths. A majority of the deaths have occurred in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Patients who have fully recovered after being infected with the novel coronavirus should still take preventive measures to avoid the risk of reinfection, according to a leading respiratory specialist.
“Generally, fully recovered patients can still have antibodies to protect themselves, but some antibodies might not stick around long enough to stop the patient from being infected again,” Zhan Qingyuan said Friday at a press conference organized by the National Health Commission.
The doctor from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing suggested that all recovered patients should receive regular follow-up consultations to monitor both their physical and mental health.
“If necessary, we suggest that they to go to a psychological clinic, as some patients might develop depression,” he added.
As of Friday morning, 177 people in China had fully recovered from the novel coronavirus, while 213 have been killed and over 9,700 infected.
The United States has raised its China travel advisory to Level 4, advising citizens not to travel to China, which is currently trying to contain a novel coronavirus epidemic that has killed hundreds and infected thousands.
“Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the U.S. State Department said Thursday. “Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means.”
Several airlines including a few U.S. carriers suspended or reduced their flights to China this week. A chartered plane carrying 195 Americans, including diplomats and their families, left Wuhan and landed in the United States early Wednesday morning local time.
As of Friday, the U.S. had confirmed six patients infected with the novel coronavirus, including at least one case of human-to-human transmission.
At a White House event Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about the coronavirus epidemic. “We’re very much involved with them right now on the virus that’s going around,” Trump said. “We’re working very closely with China.”
The health committee director of Huanggang, a city about 75 kilometers east of Wuhan, was recommended for removal from her post Thursday due to “negligence on local epidemic prevention and control.”
A supervisory team from Beijing urged Huanggang authorities to accelerate the examination of suspected coronavirus cases as well as ensure that suspected and confirmed cases remain segregated.
Huanggang now has the second most coronavirus cases of any Chinese city after Wuhan. As of Thursday, 12 deaths and 573 infections had been confirmed in Huanggang, according to Hubei’s health commission.
A screenshot from CCTV News shows the director of Huanggang’s health committee during a meeting with the supervisory team from Beijing, which later recommended that she be removed from her post.
Public security organs in the provincial-level regions of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Jiangxi have busted at least seven cases of companies manufacturing and selling fake face masks amid the novel coronavirus epidemic, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Thursday.
Police have apprehended 20 suspects and seized more than 380,000 counterfeit masks, according to the report.
On Monday, the Alibaba-owned marketplace Taobao announced it had removed over 80 shops suspected of selling fake 3M and N95 masks from its platform.
China’s Ministry of Public Security said Thursday that public security bureaus nationwide had investigated 515 cases involving public disturbances and interfering with epidemic prevention and control, among other related offences.
The disease moved fast. Over the course of just 12 days, the 32-year-old resident of Huanggang City in China’s central Hubei province went from complaining of a headache and cough to being diagnosed with an “unknown” type of pneumonia and put on a respirator, says her husband Chen Yong.
Finally, on Jan. 21, 2020, after burning through 200,000 yuan ($29,000) in less than two weeks — the totality of their life’s savings plus everything they could raise from family, friends, and a crowdsourcing campaign — and with no sign of improvement, Chen agreed to take his wife off life support.
Authorities in Hubei province, where China’s novel coronavirus infections are most concentrated, have warned of severe repercussions against anyone caught endangering the personal safety of medical workers or civilians.
In a statement Wednesday, the central province’s public security department said that it is forbidden to disturb the normal operations of a medical institution, endanger medical workers’ personal safety, or damage hospital property, under threat of criminal punishment.
The statement further said that novel coronavirus carriers who spit at other people to intentionally spread the disease, as well as those who are infected or suspected of being infected but refuse to be quarantined, may bear criminal responsibility.
In the past week, Chinese media have exposed several instances of coronavirus patients or their family members behaving abominably toward medical workers.
Chinese airlines should not bar Wuhan passengers who pass health checks from boarding, China’s aviation authority announced Thursday.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it had granted approval for airlines to arrange chartered flights to Wuhan from overseas, just over a week after all flights to and from the city were canceled to contain the novel coronavirus that originated at a local wet market.
One chartered flight from Singapore landed at Wuhan’s airport Thursday morning with over 200 of the city’s residents aboard. According to the CAAC, other Wuhan residents who had been in Thailand, Myanmar, and Japan have also returned to the central Chinese city.
Umetrip, a flight-tracking app developed by a state-owned company with access to CAAC’s passenger data, on Thursday introduced a new push notification feature that sends an alert to air travelers if any of their fellow passengers test positive for the novel coronavirus.
When Wuhan was put on lockdown on Jan. 23, around 4,000 residents of the city became stranded overseas. Though Wuhan’s tourism bureau appealed to tour operators to help them return home, some airlines have faced resistance from passengers. On Monday, a China Southern flight from Nagoya, Japan to Shanghai was delayed five hours after over 70 passengers refused to board alongside 19 people from Wuhan.
“Our common enemy should be the disease, not the people of Wuhan,” a local official said at the National Health Commission’s press conference Wednesday. “Under the current severe situation for controlling potentially infectious sources, everyone should behave rationally.”
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the novel coronavirus that originated in the central city of Wuhan had killed 170 people and infected over 7,700 others in China, according to official data.
Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, confirmed its first case on Thursday, a day after launching a Level 1 emergency response to the virus, as Shanghai and Beijing did last week. The virus has now been detected in every provincial-level administrative region of the Chinese mainland.
Huanggang, located about 75 kilometers east of Wuhan, now has the second most coronavirus cases of any city in Hubei, with nearly 500 confirmed infections as of Wednesday.
A supervisory team sent by Beijing urged Hubei authorities to further strengthen screenings of respiratory ailments that may be caused by the novel coronavirus. The supervisors have also ordered local authorities to improve, optimize, and speed up the detection process.
Currently, there are 12,167 suspected coronavirus cases on the Chinese mainland, and 128 patients have made full recoveries, the National Health Commission said.
Beyond the mainland, a total of 25 cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. There are also around 80 confirmed cases globally, including in Finland, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Germany, Cambodia, Canada, Malaysia, France, Nepal, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
Medical workers inspect a residential community where suspected coronavirus infections have been found, Kunming, Yunnan province, Jan. 29, 2020. Kang Ping/CNS
Several international airlines have suspended flights to and from China, with the novel coronavirus having spread to over a dozen countries abroad.
Air Canada announced Wednesday that it would suspend direct flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai from Jan. 30 to Feb. 29, in line with the Canadian government's recommendation to avoid nonessential travel to China. Also on Wednesday, British Airways announced that it would suspend direct flights to and from the Chinese mainland for the rest of January and February.
German carrier Lufthansa, as well as its Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries, has also suspended flights to China amid the ongoing epidemic.
United Airlines became the first major airline to limit air travel due to the coronavirus when it announced Tuesday that 24 of its flights between China and the United States would be suspended for the first week of February.
Three of the 206 Japanese citizens who were on a chartered flight out of Wuhan on Wednesday are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus, Japan’s state broadcaster reported, citing the country’s health ministry.
Two of the three tested positive for the virus even though they hadn’t shown symptoms, while the third person complained of a sore throat and later developed a fever, according to Japanese media.
A separate chartered plane carrying 195 Americans, including diplomats and their families, left Wuhan and landed in the United States early Wednesday morning local time. The passengers will be kept under medical observation at a military base in Southern California for three days.
Other countries including Canada, France, South Korea, Italy, and India are reportedly also making arrangements to bring their citizens home from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
As of noon Wednesday, the novel coronavirus that originated in the central city of Wuhan had killed 132 people in China and infected nearly 6,000 others, according to official data. Meanwhile, there are over 9,200 suspected cases in the country, including the first possible case in Tibet, the National Health Commission said.
A total of 105 people have fully recovered after becoming infected, according to the commission. Some 65,500 close contacts have been identified, with around 60,000 under medical observation.
Outside of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have reported seven or eight cases each. Infections have also been confirmed in Sri Lanka, Germany, Cambodia, Canada, Malaysia, France, Nepal, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday that the current prevention and control measures are working and the number of suspected cases is decreasing. He said he expects the situation to improve by the Lantern Festival holiday on Feb. 8.
“Based on the current measures, I am optimistic — but everyone must follow the prevention and control measures,” he said. “If everyone can catch up with these measures, (cases of) the virus will go down.”
On Tuesday, United Airlines announced that it would suspend 24 China-U.S. flights for the first week of February amid a “significant decline in demand” caused by the novel coronavirus.
United is the first U.S. airline to take such measures. Flights from several major U.S. airports to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong will be affected.
United operates an average of 12 flights between the U.S. and China each day. The company said it will continue to monitor the epidemic and adjust its schedule as needed.
More flight cancellations could follow. U.S. government sources told national broadcaster ABC News that the White House has not ruled out canceling all flights between the U.S. and China. The White House on Tuesday told executives at several U.S. airlines to consider suspending all flights between the two countries because of the coronavirus, the outlet said, citing an airline source.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised their travel advisory to China to the highest warning level, urging citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to the country. Since Jan. 21, five novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States.
With the novel coronavirus infecting thousands of people in China and growing numbers abroad, many provincial-level regions are appointing teams of doctors and scientists to manage emergency relief efforts and localized cases.
Zhang Wenhong, a leading infectious disease expert at the Fudan University-affiliated Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, has been tasked with leading such a team in the eastern megacity.
Addressing media on Wednesday, Zhang spoke about the novel coronavirus’ uncanny virulence, why containment efforts outside Hubei are so important, the role of “psychological intervention” in preventing panic, and why people shouldn’t necessarily freak out as the number of confirmed infections grows.
Two pop-up hospitals being built at lightning speed to cope with the coronavirus outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan will be expanded to house more patients and medical staff, domestic media reported Wednesday.
According to a blueprint of Huoshenshan Hospital released Tuesday, the facility will be expanded from 25,000 square meters to 33,900 square meters — nearly the size of five soccer fields — with a total capacity of 1,000 beds. When completed, Huoshenshan will have patient wards, intensive care units, supply rooms, a medical technology department, a temporary waste storage room, and an ambulance decontamination room, among other facilities.
Wuhan authorities had announced Saturday that the city would build a second temporary medical site, the 1,300-bed Leishenshan Hospital, by Feb. 5. Located 50 kilometers southeast of Huoshenshan, Leishenshan is also being expanded to about 60,000 square meters. Its patient capacity will be increased to around 1,600 beds, while its on-site accommodation area will house more than 2,000 medical staff.
China’s National Medical Products Administration approved two new 2019-nCoV nucleic acid test kit products Tuesday under an accelerated approval program instituted under the epidemic. The NMPA had already approved four such products from four separate enterprises.
Ni Weiqin, the deputy general manager of Shanghai ZJ Bio-Tech Co. Ltd., which manufactured one of the just-approved products, said that the first batch of test kits can serve 200,000 people, and the company plans to make enough test kits to accommodate 1 million people in total.
Zhong Nanshan, the renowned scientist who helped expose the scale and severity of SARS, believes the novel coronavirus epidemic is likely to reach its peak in “a week or 10 days.”
In an interview with the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Zhong — who has been tasked with leading China’s efforts to bring the virus under control — said the total number of infections should steadily decline after the coming peak.
“An observation period of between 10 and 14 days is ideal,” the scientist said. “Once the incubation period has elapsed, those who haven’t developed symptoms should be safe, so there won’t be a major infection period after the Spring Festival break, when many people will be returning to the places they work.”
Zhong, who made headlines a week ago by saying the coronavirus was “definitely” transmissible between humans, told Xinhua that, while there is currently no effective medicine for treating the virus, he nonetheless expects its mortality rate to “definitely drop.”
Scientist Zhong Nanshan during an interview with Xinhua News Agency in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Jan. 28, 2020. Xinhua
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the novel coronavirus that originated in the central city of Wuhan had killed 106 people in China and infected over 4,500 more, according to the country’s National Health Commission. The statement said there are a further 6,973 suspected cases in the country.
Twenty-two people in Wuhan died Monday and 892 new cases were confirmed the same day. The city’s mayor had said during a press conference the previous day that the number of infections in the city is likely to rise by another 1,000 or so.
A total of 60 people have fully recovered after becoming infected, according to official data. On Tuesday, national health authorities said that 11 of the 15 medical staff who had become infected while working at a Wuhan hospital now test negative for the virus, with three being discharged.
Outside of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have each confirmed between five and eight cases. Sri Lanka, Germany, and Cambodia, meanwhile, confirmed their first coronavirus cases on Monday, joining Canada, Malaysia, France, Nepal, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have raised their travel advisory to China to the highest warning level, urging citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to the country. Previously, the organization had issued the highest-level warning only for Hubei province, where the virus originated and infections are most concentrated.
Since Jan. 21, five novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States. China’s immigration authority has also suggested that mainland residents reconsider or adjust their travel plans to minimize potential health risks to others.
The World Health Organization on Sunday adjusted its assessment of the global epidemic risk of the novel coronavirus to “high,” admitting that it had assessed “incorrectly” in previous reports stating that the virus posed only a “moderate” global health risk.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, is currently in China to meet with officials and health experts about the epidemic.
“Building on experience and systems already in place for related pathogens, WHO has activated global networks of experts, quickly developed advice for countries everywhere, and is working with them to active their response systems,” he wrote on Twitter.
Thirteen medical teams consisting of around 1,800 medical workers are scheduled to arrive in Wuhan on Tuesday to treat coronavirus patients, according to a Chinese health official.
“Since the first medical teams set out from Shanghai and Guangdong on Jan. 24 to assist with treatment work in the affected areas … nearly 6,000 medical workers will have gathered in Hubei province by the end of the day,” Jiao Yahui, deputy chief of medical administration and supervision at the National Health Commission, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Jiao added that the medical workers — who will be staying at hotels near designated hospitals — were asked to bring their own protective equipment due to a shortage of such supplies in areas affected by the virus.
In response to widespread concerns about hospitals not having the resources to admit people who think they might have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, a Chinese health official said Tuesday that the issue is being addressed.
“The first two hospitals in Wuhan designated for treating novel coronavirus patients provide 600 beds,” Jiao Yahui, deputy chief of medical administration and supervision at the National Health Commission, said at a press conference. “Although the city launched a so-called 10+10 initiative — meaning skilled medical workers from 10 large hospitals in Wuhan are collaborating with 10 smaller medical facilities to treat these patients — the reality of a supply shortage of protective equipment has made this difficult to implement.”
Jiao said the two hospitals currently being constructed, and slated to begin receiving patients in early February, will provide an additional 2,300 beds. “More than 10,000 hospital beds will be made available, which will be enough to accommodate suspected patients,” Jiao said.
Over 80 shops on e-commerce platform Taobao allegedly sold fake 3M and N95 face masks, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Monday.
On Monday, the Alibaba-owned marketplace wrote on its official Weibo microblog that it had checked all shops flagged by customers and removed those that it found to be engaging in false advertising or price gouging. Taobao also said it would assist customers seeking refunds.
Some customers who bought masks on the platform said they received “risk alerts” warning them of potentially unreliable products or vendors.
The mayor of Wuhan is defending the city’s move to suspend transport services to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We locked down the city trying to keep the virus from spreading outside Wuhan, but this decision might mean we will be criticized for some time,” Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV on Monday afternoon. He added that he and his government are prepared to “shoulder any responsibility” for the sake of the public welfare.
“If anyone must be held responsible for the city’s lockdown, we can accept being removed from our posts,” Zhou said before admitting that, in the early stages of the outbreak, city officials had not reported information in a sufficiently timely fashion.
Since the total number of coronavirus infections began to rise steadily after remaining at 41 for nearly two weeks, Zhou has faced mounting pressure to resign. Monday’s interview is the first time Zhou has addressed his future as the city’s leader.
A screenshot of Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, during an interview with China Central Television.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, the novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan had killed 80 people and infected over 2,700 others in China, according to official data. The 24 new deaths on Sunday were all in the central Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have confirmed between four and eight cases each. A newly identified case was confirmed in Canada, adding to previously confirmed cases in Malaysia, France, Nepal, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
Wuhan’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang, said during a press conference Sunday evening that the number of infections in the city is expected to rise by another 1,000 or so. He also revealed that “because of Spring Festival and the epidemic, more than 5 million people have left Wuhan, while 9 million remain in the city.”
China’s Cabinet, the State Council, announced Monday that the Lunar New Year holiday will be extended from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, beyond the standard one-week period.
The decision is intended strengthen the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus. By extending the holidays, authorities hope to reduce large gatherings where the virus might be more likely to spread.
A national disease control official said Monday that because China’s vast rural population had scant experience with SARS in 2002-2003, prevention awareness in rural communities is relatively weak.
“The outbreak of SARS mainly impacted bigger cities,” He Qinghua, deputy director of the National Health Commission’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said during a press conference. “The rural areas didn’t feel it so much, so people living there lack awareness about epidemics.”
He said that township-level government officials and party members have been instructed to disseminate useful information about the current outbreak.
A medical worker takes a woman’s temperature in a village near Nanchang, Jiangxi province, Jan. 26, 2020. Liu Zhankun/CNS
China will mobilize family doctors, community workers, and volunteers to participate in the “blanket management” of both urban communities and rural villages to more effectively stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, according to a senior official.
“They’ll be responsible for collecting (travel- and health-related) information from each household in each residential building,” Feng Luzhao, director of the respiratory infectious disease department of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press conference Monday. “Special management should be carried out with people who have returned from the infected areas.”
Feng said the people working to manage health conditions in their communities are advised to wear masks and have their own temperatures checked twice daily.
The Hong Kong government announced Sunday that it will prohibit all residents from Hubei province, where the lion’s share of known coronavirus infections are concentrated, from entering the city beginning Monday.
Individuals who have traveled to the province in the past 14 days will also be barred from entering Hong Kong, city authorities said.
The decision was reportedly made to reduce the likelihood of people infected with the virus entering Hong Kong. As of Monday morning, there were eight confirmed coronavirus infections in the city.
Wuhan’s culture and tourism bureau has urged travel operators throughout the country to help the city’s residents who are stranded abroad return home.
Over 4,000 Wuhan residents are believed to be stuck overseas after the city restricted air and ground transportation Thursday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
One of China’s largest travel companies, Trip.com, on Sunday implored global tour operators to offer free cancellations to customers who had booked travel arrangements with check-in dates through early February. The company had previously said it would allow users to cancel their bookings to Wuhan over the Lunar New Year holiday without extra fees.
Japan and South Korea have become the latest foreign governments looking to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, according to financial news outlet Jiemian.
The South Korean government is mulling measures for dealing with the epidemic after 500 South Korean citizens recently returned from China. It is reported that there are no confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections among the South Korean citizens still in Wuhan.
On Sunday, the governments of France and the United States had said they were planning to evacuate their citizens in Wuhan.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Monday that it would allocate $5 million in emergency funding and medical and technical expertise to assist its “partners in China.”
The funding will accelerate epidemiological work, emergency intervention measures, and pharmaceutical product research and development, the statement said.
The average incubation period of the novel coronavirus is 10 days, according to the head of China’s National Health Commission. Early estimates had been closer to 14 days.
At a press conference Sunday, Ma Xiaowei said that unlike the SARS coronavirus, the novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan appears to be transmissible during its incubation period, of the time between exposure and first symptoms.
The epidemic is accelerating and likely to persist for some time, with the total number of infections expected to increase, Ma said.
As of 9:45 a.m. Sunday, the novel coronavirus that originated in the central city of Wuhan had killed 56 people and infected Nearly 2,000 others in China, according to official data.
Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, now has over 1,000 known infections, followed by the eastern Zhejiang province and the southern Guangdong province, each with around 100 cases. Beijing and Shanghai have reported 51 and 40 infections, respectively.
Outside of the Chinese mainland, there have been two to five cases each in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. The novel coronavirus has now spread to Malaysia, France, Nepal, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
To handle the increasing number of patients, Wuhan authorities announced Saturday that the city will build a second pop-up hospital with 1,300 beds by Feb. 5. The hospital will be located 50 kilometers southeast of a 1,000-bed medical facility expected to be completed by Feb. 1.
An American official told CNN that the U.S. government will begin evacuating its citizens living in Wuhan, beginning with diplomats and their families. An estimated 1,000 Americans live in Wuhan, according to the official.
The French government has also said it will work with China to arrange for French citizens and their families in Wuhan to take buses from the city to Changsha, the capital of neighboring Hunan province. There, they will be isolated for 14 days, French consulate staff told the France 24 television network. Plans for their evacuation will be made afterward, the official said.
Police officers set up barricades along a highway in Wuhan, Hubei province, Jan. 25, 2020. Zhang Chang/CNS
To limit the risk of human-to-human infection, Wuhan banned most vehicles from its downtown area beginning Sunday, local media reported. Only authorized vehicles transporting supplies, as well as other official vehicles, are permitted within the restricted areas.
Wuhan’s transport bureau has allocated a total of 310 buses and 6,000 taxis to the city’s urban districts to serve medical staff as they work to contain the virus, as well as civilians in emergencies.
All inter-provincial passenger transport entering and leaving Beijing will stop operating from Sunday, reported The Beijing News.
Online and offline travel agencies have also been ordered to suspend the operation of group tours, as well as packages bundling air travel and accommodation, according to domestic media.
While domestic tour groups have been suspended since Friday, international group tours and bundle packages will be suspended from Monday.
Nineteen of China’s leading scientists have called for a crackdown on the country’s illegal wildlife trade and legislation against the consumption of wild animals, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak that is believed to have originated at a Wuhan wet market where dozens of unusual animal species were sold.
“Limiting or even prohibiting eating wildlife and related trades is not only important for ecological conservation, but also because of the great significance for controlling public health risks,” their joint statement said.
Lü Zhi, a professor of conservation biology at Peking University and a co-author of the open letter, hopes the Chinese public will become more aware that consuming wildlife is “shameful” and “risky.” She also hopes Chinese authorities will accept their responsibility to curb such practices.
“If government departments do not cooperate, our concern is useless. We cannot police it ourselves,” Lü said. “In fact, we have tried a lot of methods but ended up with nothing (to show for it) because of a lack of scrutiny and law enforcement. I hope this big disaster will attract sufficient attention and lead to more impactful results.”
A recitation paying tribute to medical staff battling the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak became the most talked-about performance of Friday’s Spring Festival Gala, China’s biggest television event aired annually on Lunar New Year’s Eve.
About an hour into the gala, six well-known TV hosts took the stage and performed a five-minute recitation called “Love Is the Bridge,” with each giving a short tribute to the frontline medical workers working to stop the spread of the virus. Unlike the other performances, which are planned and practiced months in advance, the recitation was a last-minute addition Friday afternoon.
“We are here celebrating the new year while you are there helping to carry us through these difficulties,” TV host Bai Yansong said. “We love you not only today, but every day of our lives.”
The broadcast — which also included singing, dancing, opera, magic, comedy, and martial arts — has been widely hailed as one of the most successful new year’s galas in years. By Saturday afternoon, a hashtag translating to “the only chunwan performance that wasn’t rehearsed” had been viewed over 400 million times on microblogging platform Weibo.
After Wuhan suspended its bus, subway, and ferry lines from 10 a.m. Thursday, the city’s medical staff have had difficulty commuting to their workplaces.
On Friday, the local hotel industry spontaneously organized to provide free accommodation to medical workers so they might stay closer to their hospitals.
By Saturday morning, the novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan had killed 41 people and infected at least 1,200 others on the Chinese mainland, as well as a few cases each in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Newly identified cases were also confirmed in France, Nepal, and Australia, adding to previously confirmed cases in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
A 62-year-old doctor from Hubei Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan died Saturday morning, a staff member at the hospital told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication. Liang Wudong, a retired otolaryngologist, had been admitted to the hospital on Jan. 16 with a suspected coronavirus infection that was later confirmed.
A nurse on her way to Wuhan to help with the emergency medical relief efforts bids farewell to her son on Lunar New Year’s Eve at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Feb. 24, 2020. From The Paper
To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Shanghai’s civil affairs bureau said Saturday that the city would cancel plans to approve marriage registrations next Sunday. Earlier this month, authorities in several Chinese cities had said officials would work overtime to handle high demand for couples hoping to tie the knot on Feb. 2, 2020 — a date believed to be auspicious because the numbers form a palindrome when written out sequentially.
The civil affairs bureau further suggested that couples not rush their marriage registrations for the foreseeable future, especially on Feb. 14, one of several Valentine’s Days celebrated in China. “A happy marriage depends on the emotional basis of both the man and woman. As long as the relationship is deep, every day is a good day, and every day is unique,” the head of the bureau said.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, is soliciting information from the public concerning potential cover-ups or underreporting of infections of the novel coronavirus that has killed 26 people and infected hundreds more across the country.
In a statement Friday, the State Council said it would immediately send teams to investigate any inadequate implementation of disease control and prevention measures amid the ongoing outbreak, and that any violators would be “strictly dealt with” under the law.
Individuals are encouraged to send tips via an online platform that was designed explicitly for strengthening supervision and exposing corruption.
With the Lunar New Year holiday already on China’s doorstep, Shanghai has launched its highest-level emergency response against the novel coronavirus that had infected 20 people in the city and at least 865 in the country as of noon Friday, according to official notices. Beijing had issued its own Level 1 emergency response just 15 minutes earlier.
People wait for the next train to arrive at a subway station in Shanghai, Jan. 22, 2020. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone
As China ramps up efforts to contain the spread of a deadly new coronavirus, some living just a few hundred kilometers from the epicenter of the outbreak say that a lack of test kits is making it difficult to diagnose new cases in their city.
Yu Yang and his wife traveled from Beijing to their hometown of Xiangyang, around 300 kilometers from Wuhan, and went straight to a hospital, as Yu’s wife had been feeling feverish the day before their journey. A routine blood test and CT scan showed that she had a viral infection, but Yu told Sixth Tone the hospital couldn’t confirm whether it was the new coronavirus due to a lack of test kits.
Three Shanghai-based manufacturers of novel coronavirus test kits told domestic media that they’ve been operating around the clock to meet the increasing demand. However, one manufacturer said that some of their raw materials suppliers are closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, posing further challenges for domestic containment efforts.
More than 400 million Chinese people are expected to travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year. For many migrant workers who endure long hours and endless shifts throughout the year, the annual holidays are their only chance to see their families.
However, this year’s reunions for millions of people in Hubei province will be characterized by fear and heartbreak, with a growing number of cities turning into quarantine zones amid the coronavirus outbreak. Thirteen cities including Wuhan are in partial or total lockdown mode, with air and ground transportation suspended since Thursday in a bid to contain the virus.
With the country welcoming the Lunar New Year and families coming together Friday for the customary feast, it will be a somber night for many in Wuhan, as well as those with close ties to the city. They may greet their loved ones over video calls instead of hugging them in person, and may have to rely on friends as stand-ins for family far away.
“I might cry when I video chat with my parents, because this is the first time in my life that I’m spending the new year without them,” one Wuhan native told Sixth Tone.
Twenty-six people in China have died from the novel coronavirus that originated in the central city of Wuhan. As of noon Friday, the virus had infected 865 people in over two dozen provincial-level regions.
To cope with the outbreak, Wuhan is building a special hospital covering 25,000 square meters with a capacity of 1,000 beds, local media reported Friday. Construction is expected to be completed within six days.
Excavators began leveling the planned site in the city’s suburban Caidian District on Thursday evening, while the hospital’s design will be completed Friday. The movable-plank buildings are “fast, inexpensive, and practical,” according to media reports.
In April 2003, Beijing built the Xiaotangshan Hospital — also 25,000 square meters, and also with 1,000 beds — in seven days to treat SARS patients and help contain that epidemic. Two months after its opening, the hospital had treated one-seventh of all SARS patients in China.
The construction site of a special hospital for treating novel coronavirus patients in Wuhan, Hubei province, Jan. 24, 2020. The project is slated for completion in just six days. Xinhua
On Thursday, China’s finance ministry allocated an emergency fund of 1 billion yuan ($144 million) for the prevention and control of novel coronavirus infections in Hubei province. In addition, Kuaishou, one of the country’s most popular livestreaming platforms, reportedly donated 100 million yuan to the Wuhan municipal government as it attempts to contain the outbreak.
To “strengthen the management of personnel flow and block the dissemination channels of the epidemic to the greatest extent possible,” the Hubei government also announced Thursday that travel agencies in the province will suspend business operations indefinitely, and all schools in the province will delay resuming classes after the Spring Festival holidays.
Business trips for party and government organs, enterprises, and institutions, as well as the armed forces, will be canceled within the province, the notice said. All trains, fights, and long-distance buses out of the city were suspended Thursday morning until further notice.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that it is “still too early” to consider the novel coronavirus that originated in China a global public health emergency.
“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said at a press conference after a second emergency meeting Thursday.
“Make no mistake: This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” he added.
By noon Friday, the novel coronavirus had killed 26 people and infected 865 others on the Chinese mainland, as well as one or two cases each in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. There have also been confirmed cases in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.
All seven Chinese films slated to premiere over the Lunar New Year holiday period delayed their release dates on Thursday. The move comes amid concerns that the deadly coronavirus originating in the central city of Wuhan is more likely to spread in crowded spaces.
Within the span of two hours, each of the seven films — including two animated features — announced online that their releases would be delayed until an unspecified later date.
The announcement for “Detective Chinatown 3” apologized for any inconvenience caused to would-be viewers, with the film saying it would cooperate with ticket sales platforms to refund prepurchased tickets.
“Everyone wishes for peace and health,” the film’s statement said. “In the face of the virus, our wills are united like a fortress. We will cooperate hand in hand, and we will overcome difficulties together.”
Following Wuhan’s travel ban, a city 80 kilometers from the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak has also suspended its train services, according to an official notice.
Trains will be out of service in the city of Ezhou from 11:20 a.m. Thursday in order to “efficiently cut off channels for spreading the virus,” the notice said.
About 30 toll stations along highways in Hubei province, where both Wuhan and Ezhou are located, have also been closed, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.
Hours after Wuhan went into lockdown mode Thursday morning to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that has the entire country on edge, local authorities announced that there are enough supplies to meet the needs of the city of 14 million.
“So far, Wuhan has sufficient stores of commodities, food, and medical protective equipment,” the notice read. “Wuhan citizens should not be panicking or hoarding any commodities.”
However, the state-owned newspaper People’s Daily had said Wednesday on its Weibo microblog that cities in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, are in short supply of some medical equipment, such as masks and protective clothing. The outlet’s post was widely shared on Chinese social media but had been deleted by Thursday morning.
Demand for masks and other medical protective supplies is likely to rise in Wuhan, as the city has enforced a mandatory mask policy in public places. Local officials said Wednesday that people who amass such supplies or sell them at unreasonable prices will be strictly punished. Meanwhile, major e-commerce platforms like Taobao and JD.com have assured the public that they will not allow merchants to price-gouge customers in these extraordinary circumstances.
Wuhan is under lockdown. The central Chinese city of 14 million has suspended all air and ground transportation in a bid to contain the new coronavirus that has killed 17 people and infected hundreds of others, according to an official announcement Thursday.
From 10 a.m. Thursday, the city would no longer be operating its bus, subway, ferry, and long-distance transit services until further notice, the announcement said. The city will also close its airport and high-speed rail stations.
The novel coronavirus most likely came from snakes, according to a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology.
A team of five Chinese researchers conducted a viral RNA genome sequencing analysis and found that the novel coronavirus bears similarities to a bat coronavirus and another coronavirus of unknown origin.
They concluded, however, that snakes are the “most probable wildlife animal reservoir” based on a second analysis of the novel coronavirus’ relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) bias, with its RSCU bias resembling that of a snake over other animals.
In combination, the researchers said, the results suggest “cross‐species transmission from snake to humans.”
Following the paper’s publication, however, some Chinese scholars have questioned its methodology. Shang Zhou, an immunologist, said three criteria must be met in order to identify the intermediate host of a virus: First, the virus must be found in the presumed host; second, it must reproduce in the host; and third, it must prove to be pathogenic.
“Unfortunately, the authors of the paper did not prove any of that. Their conclusion is only based on a simple bioinformatics analysis,” Shang said, adding that it was “regrettable” that the Journal of Medical Virology had published “such a flawed paper.”
At least nine people in Hubei have died from the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, the central province’s capital, according to a press conference Wednesday by the National Health Commission.
So far, at least 440 people have been infected in over a dozen provincial-level administrative regions including Hubei, Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shandong, Jiangxi, Henan, Hunan, Sichuan, and Yunnan.
Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during Wednesday’s press conference that the novel coronavirus is believed to have come from wild animals that were illegally sold at the South China Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
On Tuesday, the National Health Security Administration said that all coronavirus patients in the country will be covered by national health insurance, and that such individuals will be given top priority for treatment with no out-of-pocket costs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus infection in the country, as the virus continues to spread across China and other parts of the world.
The patient from Washington state had returned to the U.S. from Wuhan — the epicenter of the outbreak — on Jan. 15, according to the statement. Earlier, the U.S. had said it would start screening incoming passengers from Wuhan at international airports in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.
Outside the U.S. and the Chinese mainland, novel coronavirus infections have been detected in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Three more people have died in Wuhan — one death was reported Monday, plus two on Tuesday — bringing the total number of casualties from the novel coronavirus to six, the city’s mayor said. All of the deceased had underlying health conditions and were between 48 and 89 years old.
The number of confirmed infections in Wuhan alone has jumped to 258, Mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster China Central Television. The novel coronavirus has infected a total of 296 people in Wuhan, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Beijing, and Shanghai.
As of Tuesday evening, 51 patients in Wuhan were said to be in “serious condition,” with 12 in “very serious condition,” according to Zhou.
Hours before health authorities in Wuhan reported a fourth death Tuesday from the novel coronavirus that has the country on edge, the head of the team tasked with managing the outbreak said there is “definitely human-to-human transmission.”
Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist who helped expose the scale and severity of the SARS outbreak in 2003, confirmed Monday that some of the newly identified novel coronavirus cases in China are not linked to Wuhan, where the virus originated. So far, official reports say four people have died and 219 others have been infected, including 198 in Wuhan, 14 in Guangdong, five in Beijing, and two in Shanghai.
On Monday evening, the official Xinhua News Agency said that the total number of coronavirus infections in the country had climbed to 217, including 198 in Wuhan, 14 in Guangdong, and five in Beijing. Shortly after the update, the National Health Commission confirmed the first case in Shanghai.
Wuhan health authorities said Sunday morning that 17 more pneumonia-like infections had been confirmed in city, far more than the four new infections disclosed in a previous official update.
Before Thursday, the number of reported novel coronavirus cases in Wuhan had remained at 41 for nearly two weeks, ever since health authorities acknowledged the mysterious illness for the first time on Dec. 31.
A 69-year-old man with underlying medical conditions has become the second casualty of a novel coronavirus that has infected dozens of people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, according to local health officials.
The city’s health commission said Thursday that the patient, who died early Wednesday morning, was also suffering from heart, kidney, and lung conditions.
More than a month after dozens of mysterious pneumonia cases were first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, local health officials have acknowledged the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission.
“Existing survey results show that clear human-to-human evidence has not been found and the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out — though the risk of continued human-to-human transmission is low,” Wuhan’s health commission said.
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A patient with “serious underlying medical conditions” has died from the newly discovered coronavirus responsible for dozens of pneumonia cases in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the World Health Organization said Sunday.
A new type of coronavirus is believed to be the cause of a mysterious pneumonia that has infected dozens of people in both Wuhan and Hong Kong, state broadcaster CCTV reported Thursday, citing the results of a preliminary investigation by a team of experts from the National Health Commission.
The number of people infected with a mysterious viral pneumonia in Wuhan has climbed to 59, with the first patient exhibiting symptoms as early as Dec. 12, the city’s health commission announced Sunday. Though the virus has not yet been identified, several causes — including SARS, as many in the country feared — have been ruled out.
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