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China is racing against time to contain coronavirus

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The National Health Commission of China said on Sunday that the ability to transmit the Corona virus is getting stronger and that the number of infections may continue to rise, after the virus has infected more than 2,000 people and killed 56 others in China alone.

The Chinese mayor of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, said he expected 1,000 new cases of the disease.

Health authorities around the world are rushing to contain the virus and prevent it from turning into a global pandemic after reporting a limited number of infections outside China in Thailand, Australia, the United States and France.

The new strain of the Coronavirus has caused concern, due to the lack of knowledge of most of its properties, especially how dangerous it is and how easy it is to be transmitted between humans. The virus can cause pneumonia that was deadly in some cases.

National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaoyi said in a press statement that the incubation period of the virus can range from one to 14 days and that it becomes contagious during its incubation period, as opposed to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by the Corona virus that appeared in China and killed nearly 800 people at the level of The world in 2002 and 2003.

“It seems that the ability of the virus to spread increases in strength, according to the latest clinical information,” the minister told reporters.

On Friday, the lunar New Year holiday, which is usually celebrated by millions of Chinese, began traveling inside and outside the country, but celebrations were severely disrupted by the virus.

Ma Xiaoyi said China will intensify efforts to contain the disease, which has so far seen restrictions on movement and travel and cancellation of major events.

China Central Television reported that the government may extend the lunar new year holiday, referring to a meeting chaired by the prime minister.

The virus, which is believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan, which was selling unlicensed wild varieties, was transmitted to the cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong has reported six confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization has declined to describe the virus as a global health emergency, but some health experts doubt China’s ability to contain the disease.

Chinese President Xi Jinping described the situation on Saturday as “dangerous”.

According to the Central TV, the government confirmed on Sunday that the number of cases reached 2051 as of midnight on Sunday, and that the number of deaths had increased to 56.

Health officials in Orange County, California, USA reported the third case of the virus in the United States, a traveler from Wuhan, noting that he had been placed in isolation and in good health.

On Saturday, Canada announced the detection of the first case of the virus, a resident who had returned from Wuhan. Australia confirmed the first four cases.

– Ban on the sale of wild animals –

China on Sunday imposed a temporary ban on selling wild animals in markets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms. Health experts say that offering wild animals for sale in cages stacked on Chinese markets, after illegally caught, makes them incubators for viruses and that the virus can mutate inside and pass on to humans.

Snakes, peacocks, crocodiles and other species are also offered for sale through the Taobao app, which is managed by the Alibaba website.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society has demanded that China be a permanent ban.

The US State Department said on Sunday that it would evacuate its consulate staff to Wuhan, to the United States, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government was working with the Chinese authorities to arrange a flight to evacuate any Japanese citizens wishing to return from Wuhan.

The outbreak of the virus has imposed ever-increasing restrictions on movement within China, with a near-complete ban imposed on entry or exit from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, where movement is limited to emergency vehicles.

– Cancellation of flights and distrust –

Beijing’s health authorities have urged people not to shake hands with each other and make do with the traditional salutation by handcuffing. This came in a text message that arrived to the city’s residents this morning on their mobile phones.

And the official radio announced that Beijing postponed the reopening of schools and universities in the city until after the lunar New Year holiday. Hong Kong postponed returning to school until February 17.

China has called for transparency in the management of this crisis after the blackout on the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) spread to people’s confidence, but Wuhan officials have been criticized for their handling of the current crisis.

“People in my town are suspicious of the number of people infected with the virus announced by the authorities,” said Violet Lee, who lives in the Wuhan seafood market area.

“I go out twice a day to accompany my dog ​​walking, with a muzzle on my face,” she told Reuters by text message. It is the only activity I do in the open air.”

To illustrate the impact of life in China, total passenger traffic fell by 29 percent on Saturday, the first day of the lunar new year. A transport ministry official said passenger traffic through airports fell by nearly 42 percent.

A large number of cinemas were closed all over China, and the first shows of several large films were postponed.

Cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean Cruises and Costa Cruises, said they had canceled 12 joint flights that were to start from Chinese ports before February 2.

Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park were closed as of Sunday. The Shanghai Disneyland, which was expected to receive 100,000 visitors a day during the holiday period, has already been closed.

Airports around the world have stepped up procedures to screen passengers from China, while some health officials and experts have questioned the viability of these efforts.

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