Coronavirus Live Updates: Beijing Sets Stringent New Quarantine Rules

[ad_1]

Chinese state-run television announced on its website on Friday evening that everyone returning to Beijing would be required to isolate themselves for 14 days.

Anyone who does not comply “shall be held accountable according to law,” according to a text of the order released by state television. The order was issued by a Communist Party “leading group” at the municipal level, not the national Communist Party.

It was the latest sign that China’s leaders were still struggling to set the right balance between restarting the economy and continuing to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the country’s top officials met and issued orders that included a mandate to help people to return to workplaces from their hometowns. Tens of millions had gone home to celebrate Lunar New Year holidays before the government acknowledged the seriousness of the epidemic. They have faced local government checkpoints on the way back to work and then lengthy quarantines upon their return to big cities.

But while national leaders may be worried that travel restrictions and quarantines may be preventing companies from finding enough workers to resume full production, that did not stop Beijing municipal leaders from further tightening controls on Friday evening in the city.

The policy may reduce the chances that people returning from the hinterlands could infect the country’s elite.

The new rules also require those returning to the city to give advance warning of their arrival to the authorities in their residential area. China maintained extensive controls on citizens’ movements under Mao, and some of the institutions and rules from that period have been re-emerging lately.

Even before Beijing issued its new rules, so-called neighborhood committees had been playing an increasingly assertive role across the country, including in Shanghai. They have been demanding that recent returnees isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival, venturing out for little except food.

Health officials in the United States will begin testing some people with flulike symptoms for infection with the coronavirus.

Patients in five cities will be tested if their flu tests are negative, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news briefing on Friday.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Health officials will use a nationwide surveillance network already been set up to track influenza, she said. The five cities are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

“We need to be prepared for the possibility it will spread,” Dr. Messonnier said.

So far, there have been only 15 coronavirus cases in the United States.

The new testing program was first announced on Thursday by Alex M. Azar II, secretary of health and human services, speaking to a Senate panel.

Friends and family of Mr. Chen, a lawyer from eastern China, said they believed he had been forcibly quarantined.

International Olympic Committee officials on Friday said that the Summer Games in Tokyo would go on as planned, citing discussions with the World Health Organization.

“Certainly the advice we have received externally from the W.H.O. is that there is no case for any contingency plans or canceling the games or moving the games,” John Coates, the head of an I.O.C. inspection team, told reporters. Asked if he was “100 percent confident” that the Games would take place, Mr. Coates said “Yes.”

A spokesman for the World Health Organization said in an emailed statement that the organization was not advising that large gatherings be canceled.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of the W.H.O.’s Health Emergencies Program, told reporters at a briefing on Friday that experts were monitoring the situation and no final guidance had been given on the matter.

“It’s not the role of W.H.O. to call off or not call off any event,” Mr. Ryan said, adding that the organization was offering technical advice about risk assessment and response measures. “It is the decision of hosting countries and the organizing agencies to make that decision.”

A senior health official in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, has called on residents who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood plasma, believing their naturally produced antibodies could be used to treat patients who are still sick.

Dr. Zhang Dingyu, the director of the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, made his appeal on Thursday after Chinese researchers said they believed that such antibody treatments could help people recover from the virus.

The search for a drug capable of treating or curing the virus has frustrated researchers, as rates of infection and deaths continue to mount.

The government is prescribing a combination of antiviral drugs and traditional Chinese medicine. But on Thursday, China National Biotec Group, a state-owned company under the Ministry of Health, said it had found that administering a round of human antibodies from the survivors to more than 10 critically ill patients caused inflammation levels to drop significantly after 12 to 24 hours of treatment.

Numbers continued to climb after the government changed the criteria by which it tracks confirmed cases. China on Friday reported 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths in the previous 24 hours.

The authorities said a total of 63,851 people had been infected by the coronavirus and at least 1,380 had been killed by the disease. Most of the cases occurred in Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak, which recorded 4,823 new cases and 116 deaths over the same period.

The tally in Hubei jumped most drastically on Thursday after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases. The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.

The economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak became more visible in Europe on Friday after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shut down a factory in Serbia because of shortages of parts made in China.

Facebook said on Friday that it is canceling its Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco next month because of coronavirus concerns.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus,” Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The company had invited marketing partners from around the world to the conference, scheduled for March 9-12 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Local officials said they were disappointed by the decision.

“A short-term cancellation will have an impact on hotels, restaurants, retail stores and attractions,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and chief executive of San Francisco Travel Association, the convention and visitors bureau that books events at the Moscone Center.

Experts used to believe that people gauged risk like actuaries, parsing out cost-benefit analyses every time a merging car came too close or local crime rates spiked. But a wave of psychological experiments in the 1980s upended this thinking.

Researchers instead found that people use a set of mental shortcuts for measuring danger. And they tend to do it unconsciously, meaning that instinct can play a large role.

[ad_2]

Sahred From Source link Health