China SARS Fighter Returns to Battle Coronavirus

James Marshall
January 24, 2020

The extreme measures come a day after a World Health Organization committee met to decide whether to declare the virus a "public health emergency of global concern".

The Chinese government's massive lockdown of the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, and similar measures for at least five other provincial cities earned the praise of the WHO. He became famous 17 years ago for "daring to speak" in the fight against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS.

"Regardless of the decision not to declare this a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, intensified international collaboration and more resources will be crucial to stopping this outbreak in its tracks", he said.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, told the press: "Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency".

Beijing cancelled massive gatherings that usually attract throngs at temples during the New Year holiday, while the historic Forbidden City will close from Saturday.

"The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of worldwide concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence", Tedros said.

Bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation networks will be suspended from 10am local time (1pm EDT), and the airport and train stations will be closed to outgoing passengers, state TV said.

Earlier this month, public health officials in China announced the discovery of a novel coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of a pneumonia-like condition in the country's Wuhan city.

The quarantine began Thursday in Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Wuhan's special anti-virus command centre said the quarantine measures were meant to "effectively cut off the virus spread", according to state media.

A leading infectious disease expert has warned that the Wuhan virus could be 10 times worse than the SARS outbreak which killed nearly 800 people in 2002 to 2003.

Around 584 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization, including 17 deaths, with 575 of the overall cases and all the deaths reported in China.

Numerous people with severe forms of the new coronavirus were men older than 40 who had existing health issues. There have been cases reported by travelers from countries outside of China, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States - and it sounds like authorities are extremely anxious this pneumonia-like virus can't be contained.

As of yesterday, there was a total of 634 cases of coronavirus in China - but scientists warned that as many as 10,000 could be infected. Experts have found that snakes are susceptible to the virus and they may have eaten infected bats.

People in areas impacted by the virus have been encouraged to wear masks, wash hands frequently and avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or a cough, officials said. The organization also knows that human-to-human transmissions are limited to family members and health care workers.

As medical consumables such as surgical masks, protective clothing and disinfectant are running short, the Red Cross Society of China's Wuhan branch opened 24-hour hotlines to receive donated emergency stocks.

While airports in many major cities around the world have instituted health screenings for arriving passengers from China, Tedros said that "for the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade".

But a senior US State Department official said Washington was "still concerned" about transparency in the Chinese government. Yet the disease isn't only a Chinese problem anymore.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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