Paris, home to two of the three French people taken ill in China’s coronavirus outbreak, cancelled a Lunar New Year parade on Sunday as a “precaution”, the capital’s mayor Anne Hidalgo said.
“Yesterday, I met members of the Chinese community in Paris who themselves wished to cancel the procession” scheduled for Republique square, the mayor told reporters.
“The principle of precaution takes precedence,” she added.
On Friday, France’s health ministry said three people who had recently travelled to China were confirmed to have contracted the virus — the first cases in Europe.
One was a patient at a hospital in the southwestern city of Bordeaux and the other two in the capital. All three were “very well”, according to France’s director-general of health Jerome Salomon.
Health officials were tracking other people the three had been in contact with.
The Lunar New Year, sometimes called Chinese New Year, marks the beginning of the new year on the traditional Chinese calendar.
This year, the start to the Year of the Rat fell on Saturday, but celebrations in China were dramatically scaled down amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 56 and infected nearly 2,000.
Hidalgo did not specify whether other New Year’s celebrations planned for the coming days would also be called off, including the main, yearly procession in Paris’ so-called Asian quarter, set for next Sunday.
“We were informed of the cancellation of the festivities last night,” said Pierre Ducerf, a representative of the Franco-Chinese Association.
Celebrations planned for Bordeaux on Sunday were also cancelled.
The outbreak emerged in late December in Wuhan, an industrial and transport hub of 11 million people in China’s centre, spreading to several other countries including the United States.
A precautionary lockdown of Wuhan city has since been expanded to much of the rest of Hubei province.
France on Sunday put in place a medical team of several dozen experts at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport to take charge of any arrivals with possible symptoms of infection with the contagious virus.
French carmaker PSA on Saturday said it would repatriate expat staff and their families — 38 people in total — from Wuhan.
They would be quarantined in the city of Changsha, 300 kilometres (180 miles) from Wuhan where the virus originated, before being allowed to return “to their countries of origin”, the company said in a statement.
The virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
There is currently “little risk” from a deadly new virus sweeping parts of China at the venue for the first official alpine skiing test event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, organisers said Saturday.
The virus, which has killed dozens and infected nearly 1,300, first emerged in central Wuhan city, but has since spread to at least 30 regions and provinces in China.
But Sarah Lewis, secretary-general of the international ski federation (FIS), talking in the Austrian resort of Kitzbuehel, said the current status at the Chinese resort of Yanqing was “low risk”.
Yanqing, northwest of Beijing, will host alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton at the 2022 Games.
FIS, working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are to host a leg of the men’s World Cup circuit at the resort from February 12-16.
“We’re of course following Word Health Organisation instructions and (are) completely aligned with the IOC because the competitions, the FIS alpine ski World Cup in Yanqing, will be the first Beijing 2022 official test event,” Lewis said.
“So the IOC are very much involved, they have a full delegation there and their medical direction are liaising closely with the World Health Organisation.”
Yanqing, Lewis said, was a 13-hour drive from the area principally affected by the virus.
Any alterations in planning would be announced, Lewis added, “if there are any changes to the situation in a negative way”.
“There’s absolutely no intention to take any risks, and this is very much the position of the Chinese authorities and the IOC.”
China can “win the battle” against the virus epidemic that has infected over 1,200 people across the country, President Xi Jinping said Saturday, in his second public comments on the crisis.
“As long as we have steadfast confidence, work together, scientific prevention and cures, and precise policies, we will definitely be able to win the battle,” President Xi told a meeting of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, according to official news agency Xinhua.
The world’s most populous country scrambled to contain the disease that has already infected nearly 1,300 people, building a second field hospital to relieve overwhelmed medical facilities and closing more travel routes as the country marked the Lunar New Year holiday.
After more countries reported cases, Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the disease that China was “faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus” but that the country will “definitely be able to win the battle,” according to state media.
The country’s most important celebration has been all but cancelled for at least 56 million people as authorities expanded travel bans across central Hubei province to try and contain the spread of the virus.
In Wuhan, the epicentre of the emergency, 450 military medics were deployed to help treat patients in Hubei’s capital city, where a seafood and the live animal market has been identified as the centre of the outbreak.
On Saturday, when they should have been celebrating the New Year, people waiting at one hospital in the city were angry and frustrated.
“It takes at least five hours to see a doctor,” one woman, who didn’t want to be named, told AFP.
One man in his 30s said some people had to queue for two days. Many people had brought their own chairs for the wait.
Wuhan authorities will race to build the second makeshift hospital within a fortnight, state media reported, adding 1,300 new beds.
They already started work Friday on a new field hospital, which state media said could be ready in just over a week.
The two hospitals would be similar in size to the temporary facility that was built to tackle SARS in Beijing in 2003 when 650 people died from the disease in the mainland and Hong Kong.
The army medics, who arrived on military aircraft late Friday, include doctors with experience combating SARS or Ebola and will be dispatched to hospitals that are reportedly short on beds due to a crush of infected patients and worried locals.
The virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
The new virus has now infected people nationwide and in nearly a dozen other countries, with France saying three cases were confirmed there — the first known European infections.
‘Nobody can leave’
On the eastern outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, police manning a roadblock turned away a handful of vehicles trying to exit the city.
“Nobody can leave,” an officer told AFP.
But the police allowed some medical workers who had gone home for the holidays to re-enter the city to help at crowded hospitals.
“They need us to go there, otherwise they will be too exhausted,” said one of the women, pulling a suitcase.
Trapped residents were stocking up on masks, gloves and disinfectant while car traffic will be severely restricted from Sunday.
The city has a shortage of medical supplies including goggles and masks, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which added that the government has shipped 14,000 protective suits and 110,000 pairs of gloves to Wuhan.
“Everyone is just trying to protect themselves,” said a man in a surgical mask at a busy pharmacy whose staff wore protective suits.
Foreign citizens were set to be evacuated from Wuhan within the next few days.
US Coffee chain Starbucks said it would shut all its stores in Hubei during the Lunar New Year festival for the “health safety” of staff and customers.
The government says most of the cases have been in Hubei and most of the deaths involved people who already suffered pre-existing health conditions.
Underscoring fears that the virus could spread further, overseas Chinese tour groups will be suspended from Monday while domestic trips have already been halted.
Beijing will suspend long-distance bus service entering and leaving the capital of 20 million people from Sunday due to “requirements of epidemic prevention and control,” the official People’s Daily newspaper reported.
The National Health Commission also ordered nationwide measures to detect and isolate people carrying the virus on planes, trains and buses across the country.
Xinhua said Saturday that temperature screening checkpoints have been set up in 387 railway stations across the country.
Meanwhile, tourists from Hubei in Haikou, capital of the island province of Hainan, were told by the city government they had to spend 14 days in a hotel for centralised medical observation and were forbidden to leave.
Hong Kong schools close
Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and a section of the Great Wall are among many attractions that have closed as a precaution. China’s film box-office earnings for Lunar New Year’s Eve on Friday were just one-tenth of last year as people shunned crowds.
Xi chaired a Communist Party leadership meeting which urged regional governments to make “the safety of the masses’ lives and their physical health a top priority”, state media said.
Xinhua said the Standing Committee agreed to set up a working group that would visit Hubei.
In Hong Kong, where five people have tested positive for the virus so far, city leader Carrie Lam declared the situation an “emergency” and schools, currently on holiday, will remain closed until February 17.
The World Health Organization on Thursday stopped short of declaring a global emergency, which would have prompted greater international cooperation, including possible trade and travel restrictions.
China’s capital will suspend buses that enter and exit the city boundary, state media reported on Saturday, as Chinese authorities scramble to contain a new SARS-like virus that has killed dozens in the country.
According to state-run People’s Daily, “all passenger transport by road” that crosses in and out of Beijing will be suspended starting Sunday, citing “requirements of epidemic prevention and control”.
A deadly viral outbreak in China has now killed 41 people, while the number of infected cases has soared to nearly 1,300, authorities said Saturday.
The 15 new deaths all took place in Wuhan, the city of 11 million where the deadly respiratory contagion first emerged, the Hubei Health Commission said.
At least 444 new cases of the virus have been found, raising the total number to 1,287, the National Health Commission said in a separate statement.
The disease has spread to 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
Wuhan and 13 other cities in Hubei have been locked down in an unprecedented quarantine effort aimed at containing the deadly respiratory contagion, which has spread to several other countries.
The Hubei Health Commission also reported 180 new cases overall in the province, 77 of them in Wuhan but the bulk of the rest spread out across the locked-down smaller cities. There are now 729 cases in Hubei alone.
Several of those cities were reporting their first cases of the pathogen — 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) — the commission said.
The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
It also has struck at possibly the worst time for China, when hundreds of millions of people are travelling across the country or overseas to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s most important festival.
A SARS-like virus has claimed 17 lives since emerging on December 31 in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Here is a list of countries that have so far confirmed cases of the so-called coronavirus.
As of Thursday, more than 570 people have been infected across China, most of them in Wuhan.
Hong Kong and British scientists have estimated that between 1,300 and 1,700 people in the city may have been infected.
— The city of Macau, a gambling hub hugely popular with mainland tourists, has confirmed two cases. The first was a 52-year-old businesswoman from Wuhan who arrived in Macau by high-speed rail on Sunday, via the neighbouring city of Zhuhai.
As of Thursday, two people have tested positive in Hong Kong. Both had visited Wuhan in recent days and are being treated on isolation wards in the hospital.
On January 16, Japan’s health ministry confirmed its first case — a man who had visited Wuhan and was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.
Singapore on Thursday confirmed its first case — a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.
South Korea reported its first case on January 20 — a 35-year-old woman who flew in from Wuhan.
On January 22, the self-ruled island of Taiwan, authorities confirmed a first case — a Taiwanese woman in her fifties, living in Wuhan, who returned to the island on Monday with symptoms including fever, coughing and a sore throat.
Thailand has detected two cases — a 74-year-old Chinese woman, who is being treated at the hospital after presenting with symptoms at Thailand’s biggest airport Suvarnabhumi on January 13.
On January 8, a Chinese traveller was diagnosed with mild pneumonia that was later confirmed to have been caused by the coronavirus.
The United States
On January 21, the United States announced its first case — a man in his 30s living near Seattle. Officials say he is in a good condition and approached authorities himself after reading about the virus in news reports.
Two cases have been confirmed so far in Vietnam — a Chinese man living in Ho Chi Minh City, who was infected by his father who travelled to Vietnam on January 13 from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Dubai Airport, one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs, said on Thursday it would carry out thermal screening of all passengers arriving from China amid an outbreak of a deadly virus.
“Dubai Airports confirms… that all passengers arriving on direct flights from the People’s Republic of China must receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival,” a statement said.
China has locked down two major cities to fight the spread of the coronavirus that has already claimed 17 lives and spread to a number of other countries.
Dubai’s government said on Thursday that some 989,000 Chinese tourists visited the glitzy emirate last year and that the number was expected to cross the one-million mark in 2020. Some 3.6 million Chinese transited through the airport in 2019.
“The screening will be conducted on secured, closed gates at the airport by Dubai Health Authority and its Airport Medical Centre team,” the statement said.
Dubai International Airport in 2018 served 89.15 million passengers, retaining its world-number-one spot of welcoming the largest number of foreign passengers for the fifth year in a row.
There was no announcement as yet from authorities in the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi which also has a large airport.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
China locked down two major cities in a province at the centre of a deadly virus outbreak on Thursday, banning planes and trains from leaving in an unprecedented move aimed at containing the disease which has already spread to other countries.
The respiratory virus has claimed 17 lives since emerging from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, infected hundreds of other people nationwide and been detected as far away as the United States.
Residents in Wuhan, a major port city in central Hubei province with a population of 11 million people, were told Thursday not to leave “without a special reason”, and the order was backed by a transport shutdown.
Trains and planes out of Wuhan were indefinitely suspended, tollways on roads out the city were closed, leading to fear and panic for those who were trapped.
Hours later, authorities in neighbouring Huanggang announced that public transport and train services would be suspended at midnight, while people were told to not leave the city of 7.5 million.
All of Huanggang’s cinemas, internet cafes, and the central market will close.
A third city, 1.1 million-population Ezhou, announced the train station had been temporarily closed earlier in the day.
“We are feeling as though it is the end of the world,” said one Wuhan resident on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, voicing concerns about shortages of food and disinfectant.
“We really need everyone’s help.”
Another described being on the “verge of tears” when the de facto quarantine was announced, with the misery compounded by it coming on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Wuhan’s train station and airport, which should have been packed with people coming travelling for holiday family reunions, were almost empty except for workers on Thursday afternoon.
Few people were seen in the streets of the city and all were wearing masks.
Taxis in Wuhan tripled their fares, a driver said.
“It’s very dangerous to be outside at this moment but we need to earn money,” the driver told AFP.
More than 570 people have been infected with the virus across China — with most cases found in Wuhan, where a seafood market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31, and it has since been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.
The 17 people who died in China were aged from 48 to 89, and had pre-existing health conditions, Chinese health authorities said Thursday.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to declare a global health emergency — a rare instrument used only for the worst outbreaks.
The emergency committee will meet again on Thursday, after its chair, Didier Houssin, said the experts were split over declaring a public health emergency.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “more information” was needed but he also praised China’s “very, very strong measures” that will help control the epidemic and “minimise the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally”.
With hundreds of millions of people travelling across China this week for the Lunar New Year holiday, the National Health Commission announced on Wednesday measures to curb the disease nationwide — including sterilisation and ventilation at airports and bus stations, as well as inside planes and trains.
Wuhan’s special anti-virus command centre said the quarantine measures were meant to “effectively cut off the virus spread, resolutely curb the outbreak and guarantee the people’s health and safety,” according to state media.
While departures were banned, trains and planes were still allowed into the city.
The city’s tourism and culture department cancelled all group tours until February 8, according to state media.
Wuhan has also cancelled large public events for the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts Friday.
Animals are suspected to be the primary source of the outbreak, with Chinese health officials saying the virus originated from the market where wild animals were illegally sold.
Studies published this week suggest that the virus may have originated in bats or snakes.
The WHO has confirmed that the virus can be passed between people, at least those in close contact. Chinese health officials warned it could mutate and spread further.
“There are many unknowns to address in this event including clinical severity and the true extent and nature of disease transmission,” said Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies programme.
Chinese authorities on Thursday reported dozens of new infections, bringing the confirmed total to 571. About 5,000 people remain under medical observation.
But scientists at the Imperial College in London estimate that 4,000 people have been infected in Wuhan.
Countries have intensified efforts to stop the spread of the pathogen — known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Passengers are facing screening measures at airports around the world.
Tedros, the WHO chief, on Wednesday indicated the situation was not escalating out of control, saying there was “stability” for the moment.
He also praised China’s openness about the outbreak as “commendable”.
But a senior US State Department official said Washington was “still concerned” about transparency in the Chinese government.
During the SARS epidemic, the Chinese government took months to report the disease and initially denied WHO experts access to southern Guangdong province, where it originated.
A new strain of coronavirus that emerged in China may have originated in bats or snakes, according to genetic analysis of the virus that has so far killed 17 people.
The theories are based on examination of the genome sequence of the virus released by authorities in the wake of the outbreak, with two studies pointing to the likely role of bats in the outbreak.
One study, published Tuesday in the journal Science China Life Sciences, which is sponsored by Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences, looked at the relations between the new strain and other viruses.
It found the coronavirus that emerged from China’s Wuhan was closely related to a strain that exists in bats.
“Bats being the native host of the Wuhan CoV (coronavirus) would be the logical and convenient reasoning, though it remains likely there was intermediate host(s) in the transmission cascade from bats to humans,” the researchers from several institutions in China wrote in the paper.
That study did not speculate about which animal could have been an “intermediate host,” but a second study published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology identifies snakes as the possible culprit.
“To search for (a) potential virus reservoir, we have carried out a comprehensive sequence analysis and comparison. Results from our analysis suggest that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir,” the paper says.
The researchers caution that their conclusions require “further validation by experimental studies in animal models”.
Neither study explained how the virus may have been transmitted from animals to humans.
But they could offer clues to Chinese authorities as they hunt for the source of the outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people in the country and has been confirmed as far afield as the United States.
The food market where the deadly virus surfaced offered a range of exotic wildlife for sale, including live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines, camel meat and other game.
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention, said in Beijing on Wednesday that authorities believe the virus likely came from “wild animals at the seafood market” though the exact source remains undetermined.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was linked to Chinese consumption of civet meat.
Many exotic species are still widely consumed in China or other Asian countries where they are considered a delicacy — like the civet or some rats or bats — or for purported health benefits unproven by science.
Authorities will suspend on Thursday flights and trains out of the Chinese city at the centre of a deadly virus outbreak, and say residents should not leave without a special reason, state media said.
The move, effective at 10:00 am (0200 GMT), is meant to “resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading” and protect lives, the central city’s special command centre against the virus said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has advised passengers and airport users to submit themselves for routine quarantine checks whenever they are asked at the nation’s airport.
The Airport Authority in a statement signed by Henrietta Yakubu the General Manager, Corporate Affairs said this is aimed at preventing the Coronavirus epidemic which has killed six people in China from spreading to Nigeria.
“In an effort to protect passengers from the epidemic ravaging some countries and to prevent the spread of such communicable diseases into Nigeria, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has advised passengers and other airport users to comply with all quarantine procedures at the nation’s airports.
“All the equipment and personnel used in combatting the deadly Ebola virus in 2014 are still very much in place at the airports.
“FAAN has always had thermal scanners in her airports that monitor the temperature of passengers and capture their pictures. When passengers walk pass the scanner, it registers their temperature and if too high, they are pulled aside for observation,” the statement read in part.
Yakubu added that the deadly virus known as CORONAVIRUS broke out in China and has since killed six people, with over 300 also reported to have been infected.
The virus is highly communicable and has already spread to border countries like Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.
The Authority, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, has confirmed the adequacy of the facilities at the nation’s airports to prevent the importation of the virus through the airports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8.
Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.
The virus is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but like the SARS virus, it is similar to those found in bats.
So far, no cases have been reported in the United States.
According to the CDC’s analysis, the infections in Britain started with a 60-year-old man who had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and developed a respiratory illness on January 24, 2013. Samples from the man showed he was infected with both the new virus and with H1N1, or swine flu.
This man subsequently passed the infection to two members of his household: a male with an underlying illness who became ill on February 6 and subsequently died; and a healthy adult female in his household who developed a respiratory illness on February 5, but who did not need to be hospitalized and has recovered.
The CDC said people who develop a severe acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of returning from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries should continue to be evaluated according to current guidelines.
The health agency said doctors should be watchful of patients who develop an unexplained respiratory infection within 10 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries. The CDC has set up a special website with updates on the infections at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ncv/ .
Symptoms of infection with this new virus include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organisation has issued travel restrictions related to the virus.