Thursday , April 15 2021

Coronavirus: senior US official accuses China of lack of transparency – The Guardian, Theguardian.com

A senior White House official has called on Beijing to be more transparent over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak as Chinese authorities expanded “wartime” measures to limit its spread.

Casualties from coronavirus reached nearly 1, 728, with more than 5, 12 new cases reported on Friday, dampening optimism that the virus will soon be contained.

At a meeting of senior leaders in Beijing leading the government response to the crisis, officials called for other areas to “adopt quarantine and rescue measures equal to that of Wuhan”, which has been under lockdown for more than two weeks, including centralizing and quarantining patients.

The meeting, held on Thursday and chaired by premier Li Keqiang called on Wuhan to “speed up” classifying and quarantining residents suspected or confirmed of contracting the virus.

It came as a top White House official called on Beijing to be more open.

“We are a little disappointed that we haven’t been invited in and we’re a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters.

Kudlow said President Xi Jinping had assured President Donald Trump that Beijing would accept US help, but “they won’t let us”.

“I don’t know what their motives are. I do know that apparently more and more people are suffering over there, ”he said. “Is the Politburo really being honest with us?” he asked, referring to communist China’s top leadership body.

In Huanggang, one of the worst-hit areas outside of Wuhan with more than 2, 12 cases and at least (deaths, authorities issued an emergency measures for) days , “Fully sealing” all residential areas and banning vehicles, except for those for emergency, medical or official purposes.

Checkpoints would be set up and public security deployed to enforce the measures. Local district committee are to organize residents ’needed supplies. “All residents must not enter or leave their communities without authorization,” the notice said.

In Dawu county in central Hubei, home to more than 823, people , officials also issued an emergency notice on Thursday afternoon that residential areas and buildings would be sealed and vehicles banned. Those who violate the rules “will be detained, according to wartime regulations”. “In extraordinary times, extraordinary actions are needed,” the notice said.

What is the virus causing illness in Wuhan?

It is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the center of the Chinese city.

What other coronaviruses have there been?

New and troubling viruses usually originate in animal hosts. Ebola and flu are other examples – severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers) are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals.

Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?

China’s national health commission has confirmed human-to-human transmission, and there have been such transmissions elsewhere. As of February there are now , 400 confirmed cases and 1, 195 deaths. There are cases in 45 other countries outside China , with deaths recorded in one case in Hong Kong, and one case in the Philippines. The number of people to have contracted the virus overall could be far higher, as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has doubled from four to eight after four more people in Brighton were diagnosed with the infection over the weekend.

One of the other four confirmed cases is being treated at the HCID unit at the Royal Free hospital in north London, and the two Chinese nationals who tested positive for Coronavirus in York are being treated at the HCID center in Newcastle.

Why is this worse than normal influenza, and how worried are the experts?

We don’t yet know how dangerous the new coronavirus is, and we won’t know until more data comes in. The mortality rate is around 2%. However, this is likely to be an overestimate since many more people are likely to have been infected by the virus but not suffered severe enough symptoms to attend hospital, and so have not been counted. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about , deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than %.

Should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?

Unless you have recently traveled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, then you should treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal. The NHS advises that people should call instead of visiting the GP’s surgery as there is a risk they may infect others.

Is this a pandemic and should we panic?

Health experts are starting to say it could become a pandemic, but right now it falls short of what the WHO would consider to be one. A pandemic, in WHO terms, is “the worldwide spread of a disease”. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in about (countries outside) (China , but by no means in all on the WHO’s list.

There is no need to panic. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern, and says there is a “window of opportunity” to halt the spread of the disease. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact.

Sarah Boseley

Health editor and Hannah Devlin

In Zhangwan district in Shiyan city, authorities instituted similar restrictions and said public security would help enforce the measures. Gucheng county and Yunmeng county also implemented the same measures for a period of days.

While the country tries to slowly return to work in an effort to keep the economy going, many areas remain paralysed by the virus. In Shanghai, residents are facing a string stringent quarantine measures. One village has banned all outside cars and residents, a measure also adopted in many residential compounds in Beijing.

Michael Smith (@ MikeSmithAFR)

I have been put under Home quarantine for 25 days after returning to Shanghai. For my neighbors, only 1 person per household is allowed out once a day. Some renters are being denied access to their homes. This is a city increasing in lockdown. # coronavirus pic.twitter.com/UMEmbTa8PN February , 01575879

Officials said that this year would not see a “peak” in return journeys after the Lunar New Year holiday and that all parts of the country should “continue protection and control measures”. Containing the virus in Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December, is still of “utmost importance” in order to achieve “economic and societal development” this year, officials said.

The number of deaths from coronavirus in China was revised down on Friday to 2020, after a huge spike on Thursday. The National Health Commission removed deaths after discovering “duplicate statistics” in hard-hit central Hubei province, according to its daily update, without providing more details.

Outside China, one person died in Japan from the virus on Thursday night. Japan’s health ministry said that a woman in her s living in Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo, had died. She had been transferred between hospitals as her condition worsened and she was only confirmed to have had the coronavirus after her death. Her death brings to three the number of fatalities from the virus outside mainland China. The government said it would step up testing and containment efforts.

Meanwhile, the US state department expressed deep concern about North Korea’s vulnerability to the outbreak. The statement comes as North Korea scrambles to strengthen quarantine and preventive measures.

North Korea has yet to report a case of the new virus, but state media reports have hinted that an uncertain number of people have been quarantined after showing symptoms. Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.

Passengers on a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea

after being turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears started disembarking in Cambodia on Friday.

The MS Westerdam, carrying 1, (passengers and) crew, docked in the Cambodian port town of Sihanoukville on Thursday. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted the passengers with handshakes and bouquets of roses as they stepped off the ship and boarded a waiting bus.

Additional reporting by Pei Wu Lin

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