An man wearing a face mask sits outside a closed restaurant at the Sanlitun shopping compound in Beijing, China, on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
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People returning to Beijing under quarantine as China struggles to pick up economy

4 Comments
By Kevin Yao

The Chinese capital Beijing on Friday imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on people returning to the city from holidays to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, and threatened to punish those who failed to comply.

It was not immediately clear how the restriction, relayed by the official Beijing Daily newspaper, would be enforced, or whether it would apply to non-residents of Beijing or foreigners arriving from abroad.

A top Chinese official, in an interview with Reuters, acknowledged that coronavirus was a deep challenge, but defended Beijing's management of the epidemic and lashed out at the"overreaction" of some other countries.

State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China's foreign minister, said China has taken the most rigorous and decisive measures to fight the epidemic, with many efforts going beyond international health regulations and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

"Through our efforts the epidemic is overall under control," he said.

China is struggling to get its economy going after the annual Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended for 10 days to help contain the outbreak of the new and highly contagious respiratory virus.

Authorities reported 5,090 new cases in mainland China, including more than 120 deaths, taking the number of infected to 63,851, and the number of deaths to 1,380.

The figures give no sign that the outbreak is nearing a peak, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases expert at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney.

But with 500 million people already affected by movement and travel restrictions, President Xi Jinping warned top officials last week that efforts to contain the virus had gone too far and were threatening the economy, sources said.

In cities such as Beijing and the business hub Shanghai, streets and subways remain largely deserted with many shops and restaurants empty or shut.

Government employee Jin Yang, 28, made it to his Beijing office but found it "anything but normal."

Canteen lunches are banned in favour of boxed meals eaten at desks. Meetings are held online, not in person. Employees must wear masks all day and report their temperature twice a day as fever is one of the virus' main symptoms.

Outside mainland China, there have been nearly 450 cases in some 24 countries and territories, and three deaths. Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death on Thursday. One person has died in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

Wuhan, the central Chinese city of 11 million people where the outbreak began, has been hardest hit by the virus.

With all public transport, taxis and ride-hailing services shut down in the city, volunteer drivers are responding to requests on ad hoc messaging groups to ferry medical staff and others in vital jobs to and from work, risking their own health.

Others work round the clock to find accommodation for medical workers in hotels that have volunteered rooms.

"Everyone in our group has such a strong sense of mission," said 53-year-old Chen Hui, who runs one of the ad hoc ride services.

The virus is killing around 2% of those infected, but has spread faster than other respiratory viruses that have emerged this century.

"From now on, all those who have returned to Beijing should stay at home or submit to group observation for 14 days after arriving," read the notice from Beijing's virus prevention working group cited by the Beijing Daily.

"Those who refuse to accept home or centralised observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under law," it said.

A WHO-led joint mission with China will start its outbreak investigation work this weekend, focusing on how the new coronavirus is spreading and its severity, its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The mission will also seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 health workers infected contracted the new virus, WHO officials said.

Economists polled by Reuters said China's economic downturn would be short-lived if the outbreak was contained, but expected this quarter would show China's slowest growth rate since the global financial crisis.

The Chinese carmakers' association said auto sales in China were likely to slide more than 10% in the first half of the year because of the epidemic.

Vietnam has imposed a 20-day quarantine on Son Loi, a rural community outside Hanoi where 11 of the country's 16 coronavirus cases are located, two local officials said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

4 Comments
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Now, if only Japan would adopt the same measures!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Doubtful that this has passed as claimed since twice the world has seen the opposite and in Japan just the beginning upon the first death soon to be second. The unanswered questions remain, What and Why were they experimenting with such a deadly and easily spreadable virus in the first place since no one in the world was messing with it. This is not the first time this country had gotten itself and the world in this mess, first was SARS, then MERS and finally Coronavirus? These pathogens are widely known as bio terror weapons not medical cure or research hence the rest of the world leaves the pathogens alone. Responsibility and accountability must be placed somewhere or dissolve the WHO as they are not helping matters by siding so blindly supporting the origin of this virus. Why is the source of funding not being sought. Repercussions should be brought up against any country that harms others around the world as this has done and justice must prevail for the sake of world society, peace, goodwill and survival.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Doubtful that this has passed as claimed since twice the world has seen the opposite and in Japan just the beginning upon the first death soon to be second. The unanswered questions remain, What and Why were they experimenting with such a deadly and easily spreadable virus in the first place since no one in the world was messing with it. This is not the first time this country had gotten itself and the world in this mess, first was SARS, then MERS and finally Coronavirus? These pathogens are widely known as bio terror weapons not medical cure or research hence the rest of the world leaves the pathogens alone. Responsibility and accountability must be placed somewhere or dissolve the WHO as they are not helping matters by siding so blindly supporting the origin of this virus. Why is the source of funding not being sought. Repercussions should be brought up against any country that harms others around the world as this has done and justice must prevail for the sake of world society, peace, goodwill and survival.

Honestly, I think it was a bio-weapon for both defense and geo political reasons. A defense because paranoia is seeping into the minds of those in power in China. They are worried about the Western mostly muslim regions of China, insurrection from the Han ethnicities asking for democracy, and Western nations.

Countries are realizing the dangers of accepting loans from China. I believe China's next option is to use bioweapons as a tool to start and outbreak in other Asian, South American and African countries to obtain a foothold in those countries like probably Western countries have done in the past. Start a problem then offer to assist in fixing it with supplies, aide and people who probably have military/intelligence connections. Now China would be in good standing with that countries government. They discuss projects together. Then scores of Chinese people immigrate to setup a Chinatown.

Rinse and repeat!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Start a problem then offer to assist in fixing it with supplies, aide and people who probably have military/intelligence connections.

So you think China is doing such a marvellous job in dealing with this outbreak and are not suffering any economic and production backlash so it will easily be able to get countries from Asia, South America and Africa seek its help if infected instead of theWHO and the rest of the world ?

If you want to be conspirationist why not start with your conclusion and move your way backward. That work pretty well too but the culprit is not China anymore.

Or you can just stop with the conspirationism. Thought I understand it is reassuring but why not trying yoga instead ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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