Coronavirus: More than 720 Dead in China, Hong Kong Imposes Quarantine

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Coronavirus: more than 720 dead in China, Hong Kong imposes quarantine

The number of deaths due to coronavirus continues to climb in China, approaching that of SARS. Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory, imposes strict measures, punishable by imprisonment in the event of an offence.

Hong Kong started on Saturday 8th February 2020 to impose drastic quarantine measures to stem the epidemic of the new coronavirus, whose death toll exceeds 720 dead, while the emotion remained strong in China after the death of a doctor launcher of alert .

From now on, anyone arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China is obliged to isolate themselves for two weeks at home, at the hotel or in any other accommodation, the recalcitrant incurring six months in prison.

This draconian measure must curb the epidemic, which has already killed one in semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Hong Kong, where locals shop panic for toilet paper and food, has already closed almost all border crossings with the rest of China

Containment measures also remain strict in many Chinese cities, where tens of millions of people must remain caulked at home.

Visiting this week in Wuhan (centre), the epicentre of the epidemic, Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan ordered local authorities to adopt “wartime” measures to search for residents living with fever by scanning the neighbourhoods.

The city, where the epidemic of viral pneumonia appeared in December, and the surrounding province of Hubei have been cut off from the world for two weeks by a sanitary cordon.

Protective overalls medical teams ready to assist patients infected with the new coronavirus aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess February 7, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan.
Protective overalls medical teams ready to assist patients infected with the new coronavirus aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess February 7, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan. (© AFP / Kazuhiro NOGI)

The SARS balance sheet soon reached

The new coronavirus has infected more than 34,500 people and killed 722 patients in mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) – 86 additional deaths recorded in 24 hours, the highest daily toll to date -, authorities said on Saturday. health.

But the epidemic continues to spread outside mainland China. More than 320 cases of contamination have been confirmed in around 30 countries and territories, including two fatalities in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The assessment is now approaching that of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic, which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2003.

Read also: Coronavirus: Air France-KLM extends the suspension of its flights to China until March 15

New cases on an ocean liner

Beyond the quarantine in Hong Kong, many states are tightening their restrictive measures against people from China. And they advise against travelling to this country.

Gabon has become one of the last countries to ban entry to any passenger from mainland China, to which most international airlines have interrupted their flights.

At the same time, other countries were continuing to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan: 213 Canadians flew to an Ontario military base where they will remain isolated for two weeks.

And thousands of travellers and crew remain on two cruise ships in Asia.

In Japan, the number of people infected on the Diamond Princess liner continues to increase, climbing to 64 cases on Saturday. Some 3,700 people on board remain cloistered in their cabins.

In Hong Kong, 3,600 people suffer a similar fate on the World Dream, including eight former passengers who tested positive.

Japan has prohibited another cruise ship, where a passenger is suspected of being contaminated, from boarding the archipelago.

Popular Fury

In China, the epidemic took a political turn with the Friday death of doctor Li Wenliang, ophthalmologist of Wuhan who had given the alert at the end of December after the appearance of the virus, before contracting it himself.

Accused of spreading rumours and reprimanded by the police, he is now a national hero and martyr in the face of local officials accused of having hidden the beginnings of the epidemic.

Emotion and anger remained strong on Chinese social networks, where the hashtag “We demand freedom of expression” flourished before being censored. Shaken by popular fury, Beijing announced an investigation into “the circumstances” of the doctor’s death.

A photo of doctor Li Wenliang, in front of which a bouquet of flowers was placed, in front of a wing of the hospital in Wuhan, China, on February 7, 2020.
A photo of doctor Li Wenliang, in front of which a bouquet of flowers was placed, in front of a wing of the hospital in Wuhan, China, on February 7, 2020. (© AFP / STR, STR)

Videos shared on the Weibo microblogging platform showed a small group of people blowing whistles on Friday evening outside the Wuhan Central Hospital where the “whistleblower” died. A vigil in his memory was also held in Hong Kong.

The Wuhan municipality granted his family 800,000 yuan (104,000 euros) under “insurance covering accidents at work,” according to the China News Agency.

In overworked medical structures, healthcare workers remain very vulnerable to the virus: 40 employees of the same university hospital in Wuhan were infected in January, according to a study published Friday in the medical journal Jama.

Suspected pangolins

While the trail of a coronavirus originally originating from a bat seems to be confirmed, Chinese scientists have announced that the pangolin, a small mammal, could be the “intermediate host” having, last, transmitted the infectious agent to a human being.

The virus appeared in December in a market in Wuhan where wild animals intended for consumption were sold.

Still, on the scientific side, another study in the journal Jama also indicated that diarrhoea could be a secondary route of transmission.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that 82% of the cases listed are considered minor, 15% serious and 3% “critical”, less than 2% of the cases being fatal. A mortality rate for the hour much lower than Sras.

The epidemic is paralyzing activity in China, where many businesses and factories remain closed until at least Monday. It is expected to weigh on the world economy due to the weight of the Asian giant – an exporting manufacturing power and a driver of world consumption.

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