Published: Thu, January 23, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

In unprecedented move, China locks down megacity to curb virus spread

In unprecedented move, China locks down megacity to curb virus spread

Lauding China's immediate detecting and sharing of the sequencing of the virus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believed that those actions will "minimize the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally".

The emergency committee will meet again from 1100 GMT on Thursday, after its chair, Didier Houssin, said the experts were split over declaring a public health emergency.

In the USA, authorities said a man in his 30s near Seattle, who had recently travelled from Wuhan, was free from symptoms when he arrived at Seattle-Tacoma airport last Wednesday but contacted doctors Sunday when he started experiencing flu-like symptoms.

The Wuhan municipal department of culture and tourism Wednesday suspended group tours through all local agencies from January 22 to February 8 and ordered agencies to cancel all group tours planned after January 30.

A World Health Organization team is already "on the ground in China" and "working with local experts and officials to investigate the outbreak and get more information", revealed Dr. Ghebreyesus, saying the committee will have more to add in the meeting on Thursday.

The lockdown comes on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of Chinese take to planes, trains and roads to visit relatives in what is the world's biggest annual movement of people.

On Tuesday, Wuhan officials introduced a mandatory mask policy at local restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, shopping malls, and parks, among other places.

The hashtag "Wuhan is sealed off" was trending on China's Twitter-like Weibo, with more than 30 million views.

Qatar's Ministry of Public Health issued national guidelines for dealing with new cases of coronavirus, with alerting all hospitals in the country to report any suspected respiratory infections, especially of travelers returning from the affected countries in a 14-day period of their arrival.

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The unidentified patient, who is in his 30s and lives alone in Snohomish County, was determined to have close contact with 16 people during his five days back in the USA before he received a diagnosis Monday for the contagious virus, public health officials said Wednesday.

David L Robertson from the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom, told PTI, " There's very likely to be an intermediate non-bat host which would have picked up the virus from bats.

Health officials in the state said the man was hospitalized on Sunday and the new respiratory virus diagnosis was confirmed on Monday.

Countries have intensified efforts to stop the spread of the pathogen - known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

"The WHO and CDC have published guidelines that we are utilizing in our design process", he said in a statement to Fox News.

European airports from London to Moscow have also stepped up checks and Nigeria, which has many citizens working in China, said it would start checks at entry points.

Chinese authorities on Thursday reported dozens of new infections, bringing the confirmed total to 571. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer has said hospitals are already employing protocols established during the SARS epidemic in anticipation of possible cases.

But a senior US State Department official said Washington was "still concerned" about transparency in the Chinese government.

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