A deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus in China’s Hubei province has spurred governments around the world into action.
- Quarantining methods range from self-imposed to enforced isolation
- Chinese authorities have confirmed 9,692 cases of the disease
- Some countries have barred all travellers arriving from China
The official death toll has reached 213, all in China, while almost 10,000 cases have been recorded around the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global emergency — only the sixth time it has ever done so.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed confidence in China’s response and said “the main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries”.
“Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
Meanwhile, airlines around the world have suspended and cut back services to parts of mainland China.
Human-to-human spread of the disease has now been detected in the United States, Germany, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.
As part of a “highly precautionary approach”, Australia has announced it intends to use Christmas Island to quarantine hundreds of Australians returning from Wuhan — a decision questioned by both Australians stuck in Wuhan and Christmas Island locals.
Here’s how other governments around the world are responding to the crisis.
The United Kingdom has confirmed its two first cases of the new coronavirus as it evacuated dozens of its citizens from Wuhan.
The health department said the two infected patients had been transferred to a “specialist infection unit” in the city of Newcastle.
“We are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty in a statement said.
“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.”
A plane carrying 83 UK citizens and 27 foreign nationals, meanwhile, arrived at an air force base in central England.
Those aboard would be taken to a NHS facility for a 14-day quarantine, authorities said, with the remainder to be taken to Spain.
A total of 13 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been detected in Singapore.
Local airline Scoot facilitated the evacuation of 92 Singaporeans from Wuhan on Thursday, with those demonstrating symptoms being taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
One Singaporean woman found to be infected had been put in an isolation ward at the centre, authorities said.
Having previously banned travel for those coming from Hubei province, Singapore’s Government said it would bar all travellers who have recently been in China from entering Singapore.
Those coming from China will be prevented from even transiting at Singapore airport — a key regional transport hub.
Visas previously granted to Chinese citizens would also be suspended, authorities said.
Singaporeans coming from China will be allowed to return home but will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
The United States
At least seven cases of the virus have been confirmed in the US and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it had identified the first case of local person-to-person transmission.
CDC director Robert R Redfield said that it was working with state and local authorities to track down those potentially in contact with infected patients.
“We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”
The US announced it would halt entry to the country of foreign nationals who had been to China within the 14-day incubation period.
Health Secretary Alex Azar said US citizens who had been in Hubei would undergo compulsory quarantine.
Foreign nationals who had travelled in China in the last 14 days would be denied entry, he said, citing the need to relieve pressure on authorities.
Washington has meanwhile ordered the evacuation of Americans near the epicentre, with around 200 people returning to the US on Wednesday.
The returnees — mostly US diplomats and their families — were sent to a military base in Southern California for 72 hours to be checked for fever or other symptoms.
Tweet @SecPompeo: .@StateDept is increasing the China travel advisory to Level 4 – do not travel
Those posing little or no risk of infecting others would be allowed to return home, but would continue to be monitored by local officials for the 14-day incubation period, officials said.
Some officials have floated the idea of suspending flights from China, but as yet have not done so, while President Donald Trump has offered China “any help that is necessary” to control the virus.
The US State Department this week upgraded its travel advice to China to “do not travel”, urging Americans currently in the country to depart “using commercial means”.
It has announced extra evacuation flights will leave Wuhan next week.
Thailand has recorded 19 cases of the coronavirus — the largest number outside of China.
Authorities have said all but two of the cases were Chinese tourists. Seven have been returned home while 12 are being treated at local hospitals.
A Thai taxi driver was confirmed as the first case of human-to-human transmission in the South-East Asian kingdom.
“The overall risk of infection in Thailand is still low, but people should take precautions to protect themselves,” said Tanarak Pipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has shied away from banning flights, stating that passenger numbers from China had already fallen 80 per cent amid a crackdown there.
Some 161 Thai citizens are stranded in parts of China that are locked down.
While Mr Charnvirakul has pledged to evacuate people “as soon as possible”, Thais in Hubei province told the AFP news agency that they felt abandoned by their government.
Germany has confirmed five cases of coronavirus thus far, recording the first-known case of human-to-human transmission outside of China.
Those found to be infected are being held in isolation at a hospital in Munich. A further 110 people are being tested for the virus.
Berlin has urged Germans to postpone non-essential travel to China and will fly an air force plane to pick up dozens of its citizens stranded in Wuhan on Saturday.
Those evacuated will be taken to Frankfurt and put under quarantine for 14 days.
German flag carrier Lufthansa has suspended all flights in and out of China until at least February 9.
Japan has confirmed 15 cases of the coronavirus and has evacuated hundreds of its citizen from Wuhan on chartered flights.
Those returning will be subject to monitoring by authorities for up to two weeks.
Defence Minister Taro Kono has flagged that a ferry may be used as temporary accommodation for some of the returnees.
The Government is now barring all holders of Chinese passports issued in the Hubei province, while any foreigners who have been to Hubei over the past two weeks will also be denied entry to Japan.
“We decided on these changes in view of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global emergency,” said chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga in a press conference.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also urged all officials to avoid non-urgent trips to China.
Japan’s largest airline All Nippon Airways has suspended all flights to Wuhan throughout February and has signalled it may stop flights to China altogether.
Five cases of the virus have been identified in France to date.
Those who have been found to be infected are being held at isolation wards at hospitals around the country, and authorities are tracing those who they may have had contact with.
“You have to treat an epidemic like you treat a fire: you need to locate the source very quickly,” Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.
Around 200 French citizens landed near the city of Marseille on Friday.
According to local media, the returnees will be quarantined at a “seaside holiday camp” for 14 days.
President Emmanuel Macron has said that the country is “on the highest alert possible”, and that the “entire Government” has been mobilised to deal with the crisis.
At least 11 people have been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus in South Korea.
Seoul has sent a second charter plane to Wuhan to evacuate 350 of its citizens, expected to arrive Saturday, following the evacuation of 368 people on an initial flight.
“What we’ll primarily focus on doing this time is to speed up the quarantine process so that everyone can return home more safely and more quickly,” Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Sang-jin said.
Returnees will be isolated for 14 days at two facilities in central South Korea.
The Government has also established more than 500 screening clinics across the country so that people can be checked for the virus.
The Italian Government declared a national state of emergency on Friday — a day after two Chinese tourists were found to have been infected.
Italy also suspended all air traffic with China after the discovery of the cases.
“We think we are the first EU country to take this precautionary measure,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.
“I’m confident that the situation will remain contained.”
A cruise ship which had docked in an Italian port was held up for 12 hours because it was believed somebody aboard was infected — a fear later shown to be unfounded.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said the emergency declaration was out of concern countries are ill-prepared for stopping the virus. (AP: Jean-Christophe Bott via Keystone)
Myanmar authorities on Friday ordered the quarantining of a Chinese national suspected of carrying coronavirus, which would be the country’s first case.
The country returned a China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou, which was carrying 79 passengers, allowing only two Myanmar nationals and the man suspected of being infected to disembark.
“We[‘re] keep[ing] him under isolation so as not to spread to others if he turns to positive of the virus,” Khin Khin Gyi, a public health official, told the Myanmar Times, adding that the man has been placed in an isolation ward with a “well-trained medical team”.
The European Commission has said it is planning at least another flight to evacuate more European nationals from Wuhan.
Pakistan has said it has no immediate plan to evacuate any of the 30,000 of its citizens living in China and has suspended all flights between the two countries until February 2.
Israel has suspended all flights from China until further notice, while all travellers coming back from China will be put into isolation at home for 14 days.
Trinidad and Tobago has imposed a 14-day ban on travellers from China arriving on its shores.
Poland’s national carrier, meanwhile, said it would be suspending all flights to China until February 9.
Back in China, authorities have implemented “the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures”, according to the foreign ministry.
“We have full confidence and capability to win this fight,” a spokesperson said.
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