WELL, THAT’S NOT GOOD: China: coronavirus cases surge, fueling fears of major outbreak.
Beijing (AFP) – Asian countries on Tuesday ramped up measures to block the spread of a new virus as the death toll in China rose to six and the number of cases jumped to almost 300, raising concerns in the middle of a major holiday travel rush.
Nations across the Asia-Pacific region stepped up checks of passengers at airports to detect the SARS-like coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Fears of a bigger outbreak rose after a prominent expert from China’s National Health Commission confirmed late Monday that the virus can be passed between people.
Authorities previously said there was no obvious evidence of person-to-person transmission and animals were suspected to be the source, as a seafood market where live animals were sold in Wuhan was identified as the centre of the outbreak.
MANILA – Health officials are investigating two patients in the Philippines and Australia showing symptoms of a new, mysterious coronavirus spreading from China’s Wuhan province.
A five-year-old boy was taken to a hospital in Cebu City, in central Philippines, just hours after he arrived with his mother from Wuhan on Jan 12. He was coughing and had a fever.
A man in Brisbane, meanwhile, was in isolation in his home, as the Queensland health authorities ran tests on whether he was carrying the Wuhan virus.
BEIJING – Chinese health authorities sought to impose a quasi-quarantine around Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, Tuesday as they stepped up efforts to stop the spread of a mystery virus that has now claimed six lives.
With confirmation that the pneumonialike coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, and with hundreds of millions of Chinese packing onto public transport to make their annual pilgrimages home, a new sense of panic has erupted here.
Long lines formed at pharmacies and convenience stores around the country as people rushed to buy surgical masks, with unlucky customers posting photos on social media of bare shelves. People around the country canceled their trips home for the Spring Festival – the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar.
“I don’t really dare to go to the airport right now, or even to the movie theater,” said Xie Jing, a 33-year-old who works in advertising in Shanghai, where there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus. She canceled her planned trip home to Sichuan, where two cases are suspected.
“We urge anyone who has developed any respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to Wuhan to see their GP immediately.”
The state’s health department hopes to have the test results within a few days, the Courier-Mail reports.
The number of cases of “2019-nCoV”, which causes a type of pneumonia, has surpassed 220 across the globe and authorities are concerned it could spread quickly.
Chief Health Officer Brendan Murphy said the risk to Australia was low but three direct flights from Wuhan to Sydney will be met by border security, biosecurity and NSW Health staff in response to the “rapidly emerging situation”.