Saturday, February 22, 2020 | ePaper


Coronavirus deaths hit 81 : Global concern mounts

Evacuation, travel ban, border alert by many nations

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Medical facilities in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, have been overwhelmed with coronavirus infected patients.

News Desk :
Health officials around the world are sounding the alarm over the rapid spread of deadly coronavirus that has led to an outbreak of pneumonia in central China.
With cases found in around a dozen countries, Germany advising citizens to avoid the country, Mongolia closing its border and other nations, including Bangladesh, racing to evacuate citizens trapped in Wuhan, the epicentre of the health emergency
The Chinese government has sealed off Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the disease emerged late last month, and other cities in Hubei province, effectively trapping tens of millions of people, including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to quarantine the virus that struck amid the Lunar New Year holiday.
Twenty-four new deaths were confirmed in Hubei on Monday, and the southern island province of Hainan reported its first fatality, bringing the nationwide toll to 81.
More than 700 new infections were confirmed, while the number of suspected cases doubled over 24 hours to nearly 6,000.
Authorities around China have already imposed aggressive curbs on transport during the usually high-traffic new year season to keep the virus out.
After global concern mounts, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the government was holding crisis talks with health experts to discuss the spread of the virus.
"Travellers should consider delaying or cancelling any unnecessary trips to China," Maas said.
Germany is also considering the possible repatriation of its citizens in Wuhan.
Landlocked Mongolia, which is heavily dependent on trade with China, closed the border with its huge neighbour to cars.
Schools and universities will be shut until March 2, while public gatherings involving sports and entertainment are also suspended, Vice Prime Minister Enkhtuvshin Ulziisaikhan said.
Malaysia on Monday has banned visitors from Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province.
The US, France and Japan are among countries looking to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said Madrid is working with Chinese authorities to repatriate about 20 Spaniards.
On Sunday, Paris cancelled a parade for the Lunar New Year, celebrated by the city's large Chinese community, as a precaution, according to Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
India on Sunday said it is  "examining all options, including through consultations with the Chinese authorities, to provide relief" to Indians, mostly students, stranded in Wuhan.
The reference to "all options" is being seen as a pointer to exploring the possibility of an evacuation. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, tweeted that the Indian Embassy in Beijing was in "close touch" with Indian citizens "to extend assistance, including on possible travel options out of Hubei Province".
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday headed to Beijing for discussions with Chinese officials.
But the WHO last week stopped short of declaring the outbreak a global emergency, which could have prompted international trade or travel restrictions.

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