UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Several countries, including France, mobilized Tuesday to organize the evacuation of their nationals from Wuhan, epicenter of an epidemic of viral pneumonia whose toll now exceeds 100 dead in China and which has infected more than 4,500 people, reports the AFP.
Wuhan, a metropolis in the center of the country where the new coronavirus appeared in December , then almost all of Hubei province have been cut off from the world since Thursday by the authorities in the hope of stemming the epidemic. Some 56 million inhabitants are affected.
While this confinement has trapped thousands of foreigners in the region, several countries such as the United States, France, Japan or Morocco are preparing the evacuation of their nationals. Returnees will be subject to a quarantine period. Japan, for its part, is preparing its own operation, and other countries such as Germany and Thailand have also said they are considering evacuations.
A flight to evacuate staff from the US consulate in Wuhan will depart Wednesday morning, Chinese time, for California, the State Department announced. On this flight, initially scheduled for Tuesday, seats will be offered to other American nationals “depending on the places available”.
France for its part is preparing an air evacuation of its nationals as well as other Europeans, with a flight “a priori in the middle of the week”.
The number of victims has jumped to 106 dead and that of confirmed cases exceeds 4,500 across China, according to a report by authorities on Tuesday. The city of Beijing on Monday reported its first death, a 50-year-old man returned from Wuhan.
Around fifty other patients have been identified in the rest of the world, and a dozen countries have been infected with the virus, from Asia and Australia to Europe and North America.
A first case of contamination was confirmed Monday in Germany, which becomes the second country affected in Europe after France.
Many countries have stepped up precautionary measures at their borders, with Mongolia becoming the first to close road crossings with China.
At the same time, people from Hubei have been banned from staying in Malaysia. If several already advised against going to Hubei, Germany crossed a milestone Monday by discouraging outright to go to China. Washington soon followed suit.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which deems the threat “high” without triggering an international health alert, said on Monday that it did not yet know if the infected were contagious before presenting symptoms of the disease , as claimed by some Chinese health officials.
The threat of spread is all the greater since the mayor of Wuhan said Sunday that 5 million people had left this metropolis of 11 million inhabitants before the Chinese New Year, which fell on January 25 this year.
The Chinese authorities have decided to extend the long New Year’s holiday (seven holidays) by three days until February 2, in order to delay the massive returns to the cities of hundreds of millions of migrant workers and reduce the risk of extension of the epidemic.
Likewise, the start of the spring semester in schools, colleges, high schools and universities has been postponed, the Ministry of Education said on Tuesday, without advancing a date for the resumption of classes.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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