Coronavirus: Chinese hospitals in chaos as lockdown spreads to affect 20m people

Henrietta Strickland
January 24, 2020

China, meanwhile, has chose to lock down three cities including Wuhan that are home to more than 18 million people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds. "They are probably virus carriers on the move", Guan said. "People are not going outside because of the virus", said a taxi driver in the city, who asked not to be named. In the capital, Beijing, major public events were cancelled indefinitely, including traditional temple fairs that are a staple of Lunar New Year celebrations. The cities are Wuhan, where the illness has been concentrated, and seven of its neighbours in central China's Hubei province: Ezhou, Huanggang, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang, Jingmen and Xiantao.

The Wuhan P4 lab meant China was one of just a handful of developed countries operating such facilities to help handle the most "virulent pathogens".

Singapore's Ministry of Health says the country has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan.

China on Friday broadened its unprecedented, open-ended lockdowns to encompass around 25 million people in and around Wuhan, though the measures' potential for success is uncertain.

Right now, there are over 600 confirmed cases of the disease, though those estimates might not reflect the true extent of the contagion.

Earlier this week, several major US airports, including San Francisco International Airport, had begun screening airline passengers arriving from central China for the virus.

"In Australia, we still have no confirmed cases".

Meanwhile, another city near Wuhan halted transport on Friday and closed its river bridge as the country escalates efforts to contain the disease.

He also criticized Wuhan authorities for its deficient response to the outbreak.

Passengers are receiving leaflets and advice on what to do if they fall ill, and a health team is available at Heathrow Airport to check for symptoms.

The Chinese National Health Commission has confirmed a total of 830 coronavirus cases and 25 deaths from the new virus, CCTV News reported on Friday.

The WHO released the information in a statement following a press conference during which Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the global health agency was not yet ready to declare the rapidly evolving outbreak in China a global health emergency.

"And that is essential because you can not deal with a potential pandemic in one country alone".

What do we know about the virus?

An outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia, later identified as a new strain of coronavirus, originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December and has since then spread to several countries.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS), which is thought to have originated from camels.

ABC News reports a suspected second case of coronavirus in Texas.

In Zhijiang city, all public venues have been shut down except hospitals, supermarkets, farmers' markets, gas stations and drug stores.

Speaking earlier in the day, the head of Quebec's public health authority said five people in that province were under surveillance for possible exposure.

At the moment, there is no vaccine that can protect people against it, but researchers are looking to develop one.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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