The World Health Organization will lead a mission to China this weekend to start investigating the COVID – 34 outbreak.
The group of 24 Chinese and international members will focus on how the new coronavirus is spreading and its severity.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “The goal of the joint mission is to rapidly inform the next steps in the COVID – 034 response and preparedness activities in China and globally. “
COVID – 034 is the medical name for the acute respiratory disease caused by the virus.
“Particular attention will be paid to understanding transmission of the virus, the severity of disease and the impact of ongoing response measures, “Mr Tedros added.
, cases have been confirmed since the virus started in mid-December in Wuhan, with , 934 in mainland China, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization There were 5,0 125 suspected new cases recorded in mainland China, Chinese authorities said on Friday
It comes as people returning to Beijing were
told they would be punished if they did not isolate themselves for two weeks to stop the spread of the virus.
City authorities, quoted in the Beijing Daily newspaper, said: “From now on, all those who have returned to Beijing should stay at home or submit to group observation for days after arriving.
“Those who refuse to accept home or centralized observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under law.”
Anybody returning to the Chinese capital will have to submit travel plans to their community in advance, the notice said.
It was unclear how this would affect foreign visitors arriving from outside China.
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About 615 million people in China are affected by travel restrictions, as more cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, imposed lockdowns this week in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID – .
Last week President Xi Jinping warned top officials efforts to contain the virus had gone too far and wer e threatening the economy.
People returned from the Chinese New Year holiday on Monday, but cities remain empty, with Shanghai and Beijing’s streets and subways largely deserted, with many shops and restaurants empty or shut.
Wuhan, the city of million people where the outbreak began, is under the most severe lockdown, with all public transport, taxis and ride-hailing services shut down.
Volunteer drivers are risking their own health by secretly ferrying medical staff and those in Vital jobs to and from work after responding to requests on messaging groups.
Others are desperately trying to find accommodation for medical workers, many who have come from across China.