Alexa Xi says China faces `grave situation` as virus toll hits 41

Dhaka, Friday   28 February 2020

Akash

Xi says China faces `grave situation` as virus toll hits 41

 International Desk daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 10:04 PM, 25 January 2020   Updated: 10:04 PM, 25 January 2020

File Photo

File Photo

President Xi Jinping said China was facing a “grave situation” as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 41, overshadowing celebrations of the Lunar New Year that began on Saturday.

With more than 1,400 people infected worldwide, most of them in China, Hong Kong declared a virus emergency, scrapped celebrations and restricted links to mainland China.

Australia confirmed its first four cases on Saturday, Malaysia confirmed three and France reported Europe’s first cases on Friday, as health authorities around the world scrambled to prevent a pandemic.

The United States is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from Wuhan, the central Chinese city that is the epicenter of the outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In Hong Kong, with five confirmed cases, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said flights and high speed rail trips between the city and Wuhan will be halted. Schools in Hong Kong that are currently on Lunar New Year holidays will remain closed until Feb. 17.

Xi held a politburo meeting on Saturday on measures to fight the “accelerating” outbreak, state television reported.

The death toll in China has risen to 41, authorities reported on Saturday, from 26 a day earlier. As of 6 p.m. local time (1000 GMT), 1,372 people in China had been infected with the virus - traced to a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.

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

In Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, officials appealed for masks and protective suits.

“We are steadily pushing forward the disease control and prevention ... But right now we are facing an extremely severe public health crisis,” Hu Yinghai, deputy director-general of the Civil Affairs Department, told a news briefing.

Vehicles carrying emergency supplies and medical staff for Wuhan would be exempted from tolls and given traffic priority, China’s transportation ministry said on Saturday.

Wuhan said it would ban non-essential vehicles from its downtown starting Sunday, further paralyzing a city of 11 million that has been on virtual lockdown since Thursday, with nearly all flights canceled and checkpoints blocking the main roads leading out of town.

Authorities have since imposed transport restrictions on nearly all of Hubei province, which has a population of 59 million.

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

DailyBangladesh/SA