Mar 16, 2020 12:22 PM

Coronavirus Live Updates (Sunday): All Overseas Travelers to Beijing Face 14-Day Quarantine, Criminal Charges for China’s First Imported Case



Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus

Sunday, March 15, 6 p.m.

Today’s coronavirus developments were all about cases moving between territories as the global pandemic deepens, with China’s capital further tightening its rules for inbound travelers and the patient involved in the country’s first imported case being investigated on criminal charges.

The Beijing municipal government has decreed that all travelers from outside the Chinese mainland, regardless of nationality, will have to stay in designated isolation centers for 14 days upon arriving in the city to prevent people spreading the disease to their families and within their communities.

A Beijing official said at a briefing (link in Chinese) Sunday afternoon that the new rules will be implemented from Monday. Those who have special circumstances can request home isolation, she said.

Beijing Capital International Airport said (link in Chinese) on Sunday that all inbound flights should dock in a designated area and all travelers should receive temperature and other checks. The airport is not testing all inbound travelers for Covid-19 upon arrival, with a source close to the customs authorities telling Caixin that this would be hard to accomplish as the tests take time and space in the airport is limited.

As of Friday, the airport has received 31 incoming flights and 5,138 passengers from countries and territories seriously affected by the novel coronavirus, according to an airport manager at the briefing.

Imported case criminal charges

China’s first Covid-19 imported case has led to a criminal investigation over an alleged violation of border check rules.

The coronavirus patient, surnamed Ding, is suspected of violating the Criminal Law and Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, a county police department in Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region said (link in Chinese). The statement did not say in which way Ding is suspected of breaking the law.

Ding traveled to the Ningxia city of Zhongwei, from Iran on Feb. 24 via Moscow, Shanghai and Lanzhou, Gansu province, and it was confirmed he had the virus two days later. He told Caixin that when he left Iran he had a cough but no fever. Shanghai customs did not detect a fever when he arrived and didn’t discover any issues in his health declaration card. Ding said he did not know how he was infected.

Iran is one of the worst-hit countries outside China, with the virus infecting at least 12,729 people in the country and killing 611. Sources told Caixin that there were over 2,000 Chinese nationals in Iran when the epidemic began, hundreds of whom have since returned to China on chartered planes.

In other coronavirus related news

• Travelers to Australia will have to undergo 14 days of self-isolation and cruise ships from foreign ports are banned from arriving at Australian ports for at least 30 days, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.

• Taiwan reported six new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, marking the island’s biggest daily rise in cases yet, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control said (link in Chinese). All the cases were in travelers from outside the region.

• Uzbekistan confirmed that a person who flew in from France is its first coronavirus case, Reuters reported. The Central Asian country is shutting down schools, colleges and universities for three weeks to prevent the virus from spreading.

• British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the government will ask every citizen over the age of 70 to stay at home within the coming weeks. Authorities have not ruled out following other countries by ordering restaurants, bars and other shops to close, he said.

Compiled by Guo Yingzhe

Sunday, March 15, 11 a.m.

In summary

• China reported 27 new Covid-19 cases and 10 additional deaths on Saturday.

• Infections outside China reached 68,562 with 2,412 deaths.

• France and Spain have stepped up restrictions to combat their growing outbreaks.

• Scientists wrote to the British government urging tougher measures.

• U.S. President Donald Trump tested negative for the virus.

• The U.S. State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest comments made by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

China reports imported cases exceed domestic ones

China reported 27 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, including four in Hong Kong and three in Taiwan. Ten additional deaths were confirmed, according (link in Chinese) to the National Health Commission.

The majority of the country’s new confirmed cases are now linked to those that have traveled overseas, with the Chinese mainland reporting 16 imported cases yesterday.

The number of infections in China rose to 81,048 as of Saturday. The death toll reached 3,204. Some 67,022 patients have recovered from the disease.

Global Covid-19 infections have surpassed 149,000 according to government data compiled by Caixin, with more than 68,500 cases outside China’s borders.

The virus has claimed at least 2,414 lives outside China and spread to 138 countries and territories. Italy has at least 17,660 cases, the second largest after China. Infections in Iran surged past 12,729, the world’s third highest tally.

European countries step up restrictions

France and Spain followed Italy by enacting lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Spain’s government on Saturday declared a state of emergency for the next 15 days, ordering citizens to stay at home unless buying necessities, working or going to hospital.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that there would be some hard days ahead and “unfortunately we are unable to rule out hitting the figure of more than 10,000 people infected by the end of next week.” He vowed to mobilize all the state’s resources to fight the virus.

Spain is the European country worst hit by the pandemic after Italy, with 6,251 cases and 193 deaths so far.

France announced similar lockdown measures as the country has seen infections reach 4,469 and the death toll rise to 91. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered restaurants, some shops, cinemas and cafes to shut for the foreseeable future, urging people to work from home and reduce their travel to achieve “social distancing.”

In U.K., the number of deaths due to the virus has reached 21. More than 200 scientists have written to the government urging it to introduce tougher measures against the spread of the virus, saying the government’s current method risks many more lives than necessary, the BBC reported.

In other coronavirus news

•U.S. President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, a White House doctor said. He took the test after the press secretary for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive, as Trump had dined with him and Bolsonaro. The Brazilian president said he also tested negative.

•The U.S. State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest comments from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson suggesting the U.S. might have brought the virus to China. Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson, tweeted on Thursday that the U.S. army might have brought the disease to Wuhan.

Compiled by Guo Yingzhe

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