China faces more border curbs as coronavirus toll rises to 259

Heading home: A crew member using disinfectant on a flight with French citizens from Wuhan on Saturday.

Heading home: A crew member using disinfectant on a flight with French citizens from Wuhan on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Lunar New Year holidays draw to an end; more flights cancelled as toll touches 259

The number of deaths from a coronavirus epidemic in China has risen by 46 to 259, the country’s health authority said on Saturday, as the U.S. and other nations announced new border curbs on foreigners who have been in China.

The central province of Hubei, the centre of the epidemic, is under a virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere in China, authorities have placed restrictions on travel and business activity.

In its latest figures, China’s National Health Commission said there were 2,102 new confirmed infections in China on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 11,791. Around two dozen other countries have reported another 137 cases.

Data collection

The Chinese data would suggest it is less deadly than the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , which killed nearly 800 people of the some 8,000 it infected, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

In Beijing, counters were set up at the entrances of housing estates, where volunteers wearing red arm bands and masks noted down details of residents coming back from their hometowns after the Lunar New Year holiday.

“As long as I am properly protected and don’t go to crowded places, I don’t feel scared at all about my hometown or Beijing, said a 58-year-old migrant worker surnamed Sun.

“There will be a huge number of people returning to the city, I think it will put Beijing at risk of more infections,” said Zhang Chunlei, 45, another returning migrant worker.

Singapore and the U.S. has announced measures to ban foreign nationals who have been in China from entering their territories.

Nearly 10,000 flights have been suspended since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, according to travel and data analytics firm Cirium, illustrating concerns about a slowdown in economic activity in China.

Many nations have put on charter flights to repatriate citizens from China and then place in isolation for around two weeks, the incubation period of the virus. More than 300 South Koreans arrived home on Saturday and Indonesian officials said around 250 nationals were being evacuated from Hubei.

Infections have jumped in two cities flanking Wuhan, raising concerns that new hot spots are emerging despite strict travel restrictions. In one of them, Huanggang, authorities asked households to designate one individual who can leave the home, a newspaper said.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:21:56 PM |

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