China to open new hospitals to fight coronavirus | Daily News


 

China to open new hospitals to fight coronavirus

The newly completed Huoshenshan Hospital.
The newly completed Huoshenshan Hospital.

CHINA: China’s death toll from a new coronavirus jumped above 360 on Monday to surpass the number of fatalities of its SARS crisis two decades ago, with dozens of people dying in the epicentre’s quarantined ground-zero. The virus has affected over 17,000 people.

The 57 confirmed new deaths was the single-biggest increase since the virus was detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan, where it is believed to have jumped from animals at a market into humans.

The virus has since spread to more than 24 countries, despite many governments imposing unprecedented travel bans on people coming from China. China’s army on Sunday was given control of a nearly-finished field hospital that will treat patients at the epicentre of a deadly virus epidemic that has severely strained medical facilities.

Some 1,400 military medics will treat patients at the 1,000-bed hospital, dubbed “Fire God Mountain”, which will receive its first patients on Monday -- just 10 days after construction began, according to state media.

The official Xinhua news agency said many of the staff were involved in the fight against another coronavirus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed some 650 people in mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

It is one of two makeshift medical facilities that the authorities decided to build in order to relieve hospitals swamped with patients in Wuhan, the central city at the epicentre of the national health emergency.

People in the city of 11 million people, which has been under quarantine for more than a week, have complained of waiting hours in line to see a doctor.

The new coronavirus, which is believed to have originated at a wild animal market in Wuhan, has killed more than 300 people and infected another 14,000. The second field hospital, “Thunder God Mountain”, is set to start admitting patients on Thursday, with 1,600 beds -- 300 more than originally planned.

In a worrying signal about it already spreading in significant numbers to other parts of China, the eastern industrial city of Wenzhou was on Sunday placed under a similar lockdown to Wuhan.

Roads in Wenzhou, 800 kilometres (500 miles) to the east, were closed and its nine million people were ordered to stay indoors.

Only one resident per household in Wenzhou is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities, authorities announced.

The emergence of the virus coincided with the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions travel across the country in planes, trains and buses for family reunions.

The holiday -- originally scheduled to end last Friday -- was extended by three days to give authorities more time to deal with the crisis.

But some major cities -- including Shanghai -- extended the holiday again, and many schools and universities delayed the start of new terms.

Road traffic on Sunday, when hundreds of millions of people would have been expected to return to their cities of work, was down 80 percent, the transport ministry said.

The number of infections in China also jumped signficantly on Monday, passing 17,200.

The first person to die overseas from the virus was a 44-year-old man from Wuhan who travelled to the Philippines, the World Health Organization said.

The G7 countries -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States -- have all confirmed cases of the virus.

They will discuss a joint response, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.

The US, Australia, New Zealand and Israel have banned foreign nationals from visiting if they have been in China recently, and they have also warned their own citizens against travelling there.

Mongolia, Russia and Nepal have closed their land borders.

The World Health Organization has declared the crisis a global health emergency, and the first foreign death from the virus was reported in the Philippines on Sunday.

In China, all but one of the 57 new deaths were reported Monday in Wuhan and the rest of Hubei province, most of which has been under lockdown for almost two weeks to stop people leaving and transmitting the virus.

The national death toll reached 361, exceeding the 349 mainland fatalities from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03.

SARS, caused by a pathogen similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people -- with most of the other deaths in Hong Kong.

The virus is also having an increasingly heavy economic impact, shutting down businesses across China, curbing international travel and impacting production lines of major international brands.

A woman who recovered after being infected receives flowerst as she leaves hospital in Bozhou.
A pilot in full protective gear parks an aircraft at Wuhan airport.

Stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen plunged by nearly nine percent on Monday morning as investors returned from a Lunar New Year holiday that had been extended to stop people travelling around China.

Meanwhile, Russia plans to deport foreigners diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Monday, as the government postponed an investment forum over the deadly infection.

“Now it’s been added to the list of especially dangerous illnesses. That will allow us to deport foreign citizens if they are diagnosed with such an illness,” Mishustin said at a televised government meeting.

He also said that an annual investment forum in Sochi that was due to take place in mid-February would be postponed.

“First and foremost we have to think about the safety and health of our citizens (and) forum participants,” Mishustin added.

Russia has two confirmed cases of the virus and both are Chinese citizensbeing treated in Siberian hospitals.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said more than 900 Russians flew back from China in the last two days on charter and regular flights and Russia is set to evacuate some 130 people from Hubei province, epicentre of the epidemic.

- AFP


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