Coronavirus Live Updates (Sunday): China Discovers Infected Travelers From Iran and U.K., Another Wuhan Doctor Dies
China is grappling with a new coronavirus epidemic that began in December and has since spread to countries around the world. While the country has made headway in controlling the virus’s spread, the picture abroad is less positive as hotspots emerge in a number of other nations, including Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Caixin Global will continue covering this story as it develops. Please check back regularly for updates.
Sunday, March 1, 7:00 p.m.
The big coronavirus news in China on Sunday was cases imported into the country from overseas, as the epidemic which began in Wuhan spreads worldwide.
Two Chinese nationals who had recently traveled to Iran have tested positive for Covid-19, Beijing’s municipal government reported in a briefing (link in Chinese) on Sunday. The city’s health authorities said the pair had been in close contact with a patient in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region who had also traveled to Iran. These two cases bring the total number in the city to 413 with eight deaths.
Shenzhen, a tech hub in South China’s Guangdong province, also reported an imported Covid-19 case Sunday. Caixin learned that the patient, a 25-year-old man, flew to the city from London on Thursday via Hong Kong.
In response to imported cases, the authorities are stepping up scrutiny of, and restrictions on, inbound travelers. Some regions have begun to ask tourists coming from countries with major outbreaks, such as Japan, South Korea, and Iran, to be quarantined for 14 days.
On Saturday, a Ningxia health official told Caixin that the region has reported a total of two cases imported from Iran. Both patients returned from Iran via Moscow, Shanghai, and Beijing.
Iran had reported 978 cases and 54 deaths as of Sunday. Several senior officials including Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar and a member of parliament, Mojtaba Zonnour, have tested positive for Covid-19.
Another Wuhan Central Hospital doctor killed by coronavirus
Wuhan Central Hospital, where the whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang worked and died, reported another doctor has died from Covid-19.
Jiang Xueqing, 55, died of the virus, a statement (link in Chinese) from the hospital said on Sunday. A nurse told Caixin that he spent almost a month hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, which can help keep patients alive when their lungs and heart fail.
The hospital is close to the seafood and wildlife market where the epidemic is thought to have started, has treated many Covid-19 patients, and seen several staff members infected with the new coronavirus.
So far 25 medical workers in China have died during the epidemic, 12 of which have died from the coronavirus, according to Caixin calculation. Others died from other causes, including fatigue. More than 3,000 Chinese medical staff had contracted or were suspected of having the coronavirus as of Feb. 24, according to a team of experts (link in Chinese) from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese health authorities.
In other coronavirus-related news:
• South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for cooperation with Japan and China to address unconventional security threats such as coronavirus epidemic. “We can respond to unconventional security threats only when we strengthen cooperation, not only with North Korea but also with adjacent countries like China and Japan and nearby Southeast Asian nations,” he said.
South Korea has confirmed (link in Korean) 3,736 cases as of Sunday afternoon, the largest number outside China. The death toll has risen to 18.
• The British government announced a “battle plan” if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, the BBC reported. The plan includes asking recently retired doctors and nurses to return to work and urging people to work from home.
• Health officials in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, said at a briefing Sunday that 11 cities and regions in Hubei did not report a single case on Saturday. Eight cities and regions have each seen their total confirmed cases surpassing 1,000, a deputy director of the province’s center for disease control and prevention said.
Sunday, March 1, 12:00 p.m.
China’s health authority confirmed (link in Chinese) 579 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total infection count in the country up to 79,968. The number of new cases was up from the previous day.
Another 35 patients died of the disease yesterday, meaning China’s official death toll has risen to 2,873.
Almost all the new cases were confirmed in Hubei, as the province at the epicenter of the epidemic reported 570 new cases and 34 additional deaths Saturday.
A total of 41,675 patients have recovered from the disease in China, including 33 in Hong Kong, eight in Macao and nine in Taiwan.
President Xi calls for better epidemic prevention
Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed officials to strengthen areas of weakness and close loopholes exposed by the Covid-19 outbreak. He made the remarks in an article published Sunday in the Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.
He stressed the importance of improving institutions and mechanisms for epidemic prevention and control and the national public health emergency management system, according to a summary of the article published by the official Xinhua News Agency.
Some localities and departments did not take efficient measures in the face of the sudden epidemic, some prevention and control measures were changed overnight, and in some places illegal and criminal acts were committed that seriously hindered work against the virus, President Xi wrote (link in Chinese). “People are not satisfied with those phenomena,” he said.
U.S. confirms first coronavirus death
U.S. President Donald Trump said the outbreak could bring his country and China together, in response to a question from Caixin at a briefing on Saturday. “In a certain way, this can bring the world closer.”
“We just did a big trade deal. We're starting on another trade deal with China — a very big one. And we've been working very closely,” he added.
The U.S government confirmed the country’s first death from the new coronavirus yesterday, a man in his 50s living in Washington state. There was no evidence that the patient had a relevant recent travel history nor had he had contact with person known to be infected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reported two other new cases in the state, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to 22.
U.S. health officials said the risk posed by the virus to the public remains low, but the situation could change fast. “Most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus, but some people will be at increased risk depending on their exposures. The greatest risk is to those who have been in close contact with people with COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement.
Trump has boosted travel restrictions to Iran, Italy and South Korea.
In other coronavirus-related news:
• Three northern Italian regions will keep schools and universities closed for a second consecutive week, Reuters reported. Italy is the worst-hit European country, with 1,128 confirmed cases as of Saturday.
The WHO said it deployed infection prevention and control specialists to Italy.
• The Chinese Embassy in Russia denied (link in Chinese) rumors that Moscow police have mistreated people in quarantine and detained Chinese citizens for no reason. The statement from the embassy called for respect for the temporary measures taken by the Russian authorities to prevent and control the epidemic.
Compiled by Guo Yingzhe
- MOST POPULAR