Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 18, 2020.
The outbreak of a new coronavirus stemming from Wuhan, China has killed four people with confirmed cases totaling more than 200 ahead of the massive Lunar New Year holiday during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel.
Late Monday, China’s authorities confirmed that the virus can pass from person to person.
The outbreak could hit the economy, experts warned as they called back to the fallout from the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis in 2003.
The Wuhan virus — what it is and where it started
The coronavirus, which causes a type of pneumonia, was thought to have first originated at a wholesale seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It was first reported in late December.
The World Health Organization said it appears the outbreak began in an animal source.
On Sunday, China’s National Health Commission said the source of the virus remains unknown and that its transmission path hasn’t been completely traced.
As of Monday evening, the number of confirmed cases in China stood at 218 — with 198 in Wuhan — and four known deaths. Authorities also confirmed five cases in Beijing, and one case in Shanghai, and 14 in the Guangdong province.
Cases have also been reported in Thailand, South Korea and Japan. Symptoms include a fever and difficulty in breathing, and there is no vaccine for this new virus yet.
The outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday period this week, when millions of Chinese will travel domestically and overseas — heightening the risk of more transmissions.
The WHO said it will convene an emergency committee on the virus on Wednesday.
Comparison with SARS
The outbreak has sparked alarm because the disease is in the same family of viruses as SARS.
SARS, a severe epidemic which emerged in China in 2002, killed nearly 800 people worldwide. It hit Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Beijing the hardest and triggered a severe downturn in the region.
“I remember the SARS outbreak very, very clearly and the impact it had. These things have an enormous hit on economies,” said Rob Carnell, Dutch bank ING’s chief economist, adding that some countries even slipped into recession.
“It is not inconceivable that if Wuhan becomes more widely spread, and starts to claim more lives, that it will result in a similar response,” added Carnell.
At the time, the rapid spread of SARS was blamed on a lack of transparency by the Chinese authorities. In an opinion editorial published Sunday, state tabloid Global Times wrote, “In the early moments of SARS, there was concealment in China. This must not be repeated.”
This time, however, experts say China has moved more rapidly to deal with the crisis and also said that the virus appears to be less fatal than SARS.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that containing the spread of the coronavirus should be a “top priority,” according to state media.
“Government and World Health Organization reports indicate that the virus is both less virulent and less deadly than SARS. The response from Beijing is also far faster this time than it was in 2002-04,” said Rory Green, economist for China and South Korea at research firm TS Lombard.
Impact on economy
ING’s Carnell warned that if consumers get spooked, the impact on the economy could be significant.
“Things like this … stop people from undertaking economic activity. You don’t go out. You don’t travel. You don’t eat out … You don’t even need lots of people to die or even get sick. You just need people to be worried about that to have a very very massive impact, and potentially quite a long-lasting impact, ” he warned.
He pointed to SARS as an example: Tourists stopped traveling to places where there were outbreaks, commuters stopped taking public transport and worked from home instead, and consumers stayed away from malls and restaurants.
At the peak of SARS, TS Lombard’s Green noted, domestic tourist growth in the second quarter of 2003 fell 45% year-on-year, and revenue from that activity plunged 64%.
He said, however, that the impact this time round should be less than that of SARS, given that it seems to be less virulent.
“Given the Wuhan coronavirus is less serious and the government response has been faster and stronger, the impact on the economy will certainly be less than SARS,” he added. “At present our outlook is for the disease to drag on retail sales and tourism but for consumption growth to remain on trend at 7%.”
Japan confirms third case of new coronavirus – The Japan Times
The health ministry said Saturday it has confirmed a third case of a new deadly virus that has been rapidly spreading in China and beyond.
The patient is a woman from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak of the mysterious coronavirus began, the ministry said, adding she arrived in Japan on Jan. 18.
The ministry has not disclosed her nationality and from where she entered Japan.
The woman in her 30s, who is in stable condition, is said to have had no symptoms at the time of arrival but developed a fever and started coughing on Tuesday night, according to the ministry.
She visited a Tokyo hospital on Thursday and later tested positive for the virus, which has killed at least 41 people in China.
The number of people with pneumonia caused by the virus topped 1,300 worldwide on Saturday, just as hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens set out on domestic and overseas trips at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday.
China coronavirus Death toll rises
Health officials in China say a coronavirus has killed 15 more people in the province of Hubei, where the outbreak first started.
There are currently 1,287 confirmed cases in China, 41 of whom have died.
It comes as China is begins celebrations of the Lunar New Year, one of the most important dates in its calendar.
Many events have been cancelled and a new hospital is being built in the city of Wuhan.
The virus has now spread to Europe, with three cases confirmed in France.
The first case was in Bordeaux, while the other two were in the Paris area, the French health minister said on Friday night.
And one case has been confirmed in Australia.
Chinese media outlets said the new 1,000-bed hospital could be ready within six days. A total of 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers are currently working on the site.
The project will “solve the shortage of existing medical resources” and would be “built fast [and] not cost much… because it will be prefabricated buildings”, the Changjiang Daily said.
Pharmacies in Wuhan have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been filled with nervous members of the public.
Symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment.
Around one-in-four cases are thought to be severe.
What restrictions are in place in Hubei?
Travel restrictions vary from city to city.
Wuhan is effectively on lockdown: all bus, metro and ferry services have been suspended, and all outbound planes and trains cancelled.
Residents have been advised not to leave, and roadblocks have been reported.
Ezhou, a smaller city in Hubei, shut its railway station. The city of Enshi has suspended all bus services.
And the rest of China?
City officials in the capital, Beijing, and Shanghai have asked residents who return from affected areas to stay at home for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, local media report.
- Have you been affected? Get in touch: email@example.com
Authorities have also shut major tourist sites including the Forbidden City in Beijing and a section of the Great Wall, and cancelled major public events in other parts of the country, including:
- Traditional temple fairs in Beijing
- An international carnival in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong’s annual football tournament
- All public Lunar New Year celebrations in Macau
Shanghai’s Disney Resort is temporarily closing, as are McDonald’s restaurants in five cities.
On Thursday, a coronavirus patient died in northern Hebei province – making it the first death outside Hubei.
Another death was later confirmed in north-east Heilongjiang province, more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Wuhan.
Earlier, when the death toll was 17, information from China’s National Health Commission said the youngest person who died from the virus was 48 and the oldest was 89.
But 15 of the 17 were over 60, and more than half suffered from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes. Just four were women.
What’s the global situation?
French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said one of the French cases, a 48-year-old man of Chinese origin who had been visiting Wuhan, had been hospitalised in Bordeaux. Little was known about the second case, in hospital in Paris, except that the patient had been travelling in China.
It was likely other cases would occur in Europe, Ms Buzyn added.
She confirmed a third case, in Paris, later on Friday evening.
On Saturday, Australia reported its first case, a patient who is in hospital in Melbourne, after arriving from China last weekend.
Earlier on Friday a case was confirmed in Chicago, the second in the US.
Singapore confirmed its third case, known to be the son of another patient, also on Friday. Nepal recorded its first case on the same day.
Thailand has five cases confirmed; Japan, Vietnam and South Korea two each; and one in Taiwan.
The World Health Organization has not classed the virus as an “international emergency”, partly because of the low number of overseas cases.
“It may yet become one,” said the WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Learn more about the new virus
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Federal Government Increasing Measures to Monitor Wuhan Novel Coronavirus Risks at Canadian Airports, Including Pearson – Government of Ontario News
TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and co-chair of the federal-provincial-territorial health table, released the following statement on Ontario’s preparedness for the Wuhan novel coronavirus following a joint call with her federal and provincial counterparts:
“While there remain no confirmed cases of the virus in Canada, the federal government is putting in place enhanced screening and detection measures at Toronto Pearson International Airport to further protect the health of the public from the Wuhan novel coronavirus.
Today, I joined Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health for Canada, and my ministerial colleagues from each of the provinces and territories to share important information and further coordinate our joint efforts to protect the health and well being of all Canadians, including Ontarians, from the emerging issues of the Wuhan novel coronavirus. The federal government outlined their enhanced measures, which now include:
- Screening questions at border kiosks will now include questions about previous travel to Wuhan, China in the past 14 days. A positive response would trigger an enhanced screening process, including sending the traveller to a Canadian border agent for further questioning about their health status. The border agent will determine whether the traveller needs to seek immediate medical assessment and treatment and, if so, EMS will transport the traveller from the airport directly to hospital. This screening will be done in Vancouver and Montreal as well.
- Fact sheets are also being developed in English, French and Chinese for people who have travelled to China and are not currently exhibiting signs of illness. These fact sheets will outline the symptoms that individuals should watch for and any next steps should they experience symptoms, including seeking an immediate medical assessment.
The federal government’s enhanced screening measures build on Ontario’s robust and comprehensive protocols in place to actively monitor for, detect and contain any suspected cases of Wuhan novel coronavirus. The federal government’s measures will further support my ministry, in collaboration with Public Health Ontario, local health units, hospitals and health care providers, to monitor the Wuhan novel coronavirus and contain any cases, should one present in Ontario.
While the risk to Ontarians remains low, we will continue to be in close contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other jurisdictions to monitor this developing situation and safeguard the health of all Ontarians.
I’d like to thank all our partners for their on-going efforts in responding to this emerging situation. I want to reiterate our top priority will always remain safeguarding the health of the public, patients and care providers.”
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