China decries travel, visa measures

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    GENEVA. — China on Monday decried some countries for denying entry to people from Hubei province, at the center of the new coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak, and canceling of flights, as going against recommendations of the World Health Organization not to take unnecessary or excessive measures.

    In a speech to the WHO’s Executive Board, which opened a six-day session in Geneva, China’s delegate said the international community needed to treat the new virus outbreak objectively, fairly, and not “deliberately create panic” among the general public.

    The Chinese government will continue to take a “responsible attitude” toward its people’s health, rigorously implement control measures and work to halt further spread of virus, he said.

    It would also continue to share information with the WHO, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan “as always,” he added.

    The number of deaths in China from the newly identified virus, which emerged in Wuhan City in the central province of Hubei in December, has risen to 361 as of Sunday, up 57 from the previous day, the National Health Commission said.

    The number of new confirmed infections in China rose by 2,829 on Sunday, bringing the total to 17,205.

    At least another 171 cases have been reported in Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain, Thailand, the United States and 14 other countries and regions outside mainland China.

    The United States, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Vietnam are among countries that have denied entry to foreign nationals who have recently been in China.

    Countries including Russia, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States are working to evacuate citizens from Wuhan or have already done so.

    Global airlines have suspended or scaled back direct flights to China’s major cities.
    The US confirmed its 11th case of new coronavirus.

    The Chinese foreign ministry said the US has taken actions that create and spread fear, instead of offering any significant assistance.

    The US was the first nation to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff, and the first to impose a ban on Chinese travelers, said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

    “All it has done could only create and spread fear, which is a bad example,” Hua told an online news briefing, adding that China hoped countries would make judgments and responses that were reasonable, calm and based on science.

    The first death outside of China was reported on Sunday — a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after traveling there from Wuhan.

    Chinese data suggest the virus is less deadly than the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which killed nearly 800 people of the some 8,000 it infected.

    The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

    The United States, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea have recorded person-to-person transmission infections, suggesting greater potential for spreading.

    China’s central city of Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei are under a virtual quarantine.

    US confirms 11 cases

    California health officials said on Sunday they had confirmed 11 cases of the new, fast-spreading coronavirus in the United States, with one in Santa Clara County and two more in San Benito County.

    In Santa Clara County, a woman and the family she is staying with are being quarantined and she is now in isolation at their home, Santa Clara County health officials told a news conference. The woman was not sick enough to require hospitalization, it added.

    The other two cases involve a married couple in San Benito County, the San Benito County Public Health Services announced in a release late Sunday.

    The Santa Clara woman, who recently traveled to the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, is the second case in Santa Clara reported, health officials said. They said the case is not related to the first case in Santa Clara.

    The two additional cases involve a husband and wife, and the husband had recently traveled to Wuhan and apparently transmitted the disease to his wife, San Benito County Public Health Services said in a release late Sunday. Neither patient is hospitalized, officials said.

    San Benito County health officials were not immediately available to Reuters for comment.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed county health officials of the case Sunday morning, said Sara Cody, health officer of the Public Health Department of the County of Santa Clara.

    Russia to expel foreigners with coronavirus

    MOSCOW. — Russia plans to expel foreigners who test positive for the fast-spreading new coronavirus, Interfax news agency reported on Monday.

    Russia, which has a 4,300-km (2,670-mile) border with China, reported two cases of the virus last week, in the Siberian region of Tyumen and the far eastern Zabaykalsky region, both involving Chinese nationals.

    Russia’s military will start flying back Russian citizens from China’s Hubei province, on Monday, taking 130 people back out of a total more than 600, officials have said.

    Separately, Russia had moved 58 of its citizens back from China’s border regions as of February 1, the regional Primorsk government said on its Instagram account over the weekend.

    Malaysian flight to evacuate citizens from Wuhan

    KUALA LUMPUR. — Malaysia sent an AirAsia plane to China’s Wuhan on Monday to bring back 141 people and also deliver 500,000 pairs of gloves to the country hit by the coronavirus epidemic, the National Disaster Management Agency said.

    All the passengers, including 12 crew and 14 Malaysian government officials, will undergo medical screening once they are back and those without symptoms will be sent to a monitoring centre for 14 days. People with symptoms will be hospitalized immediately.

    The number of people infected in Malaysia remains at eight, all of them visiting Chinese nationals, the government said on Monday.

    Malaysia is the world’s biggest producer of gloves and its companies such as Top Glove Corp have ramped up production to meet rising demand from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The industry has also vowed to donate gloves to China.

    HK medical workers strike to urge closure of China border to block virus

    HONG KONG. — Hundreds of medical workers went on strike in Hong Kong on Monday to demand the government shut the border with mainland China to prevent the spread of a coronavirus and ease pressure on a stretched health sector.

    The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), which has about 18,000 members, said 2,400 workers took part in the strike, despite calls by the government for medical workers not to.

    Hong Kong has 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

    “(We) hope that these strikes will make the government respond to our five demands, most importantly to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Hong Kong,” said medical worker Tracy Pui, who queued up with colleagues to sign a petition in support of the HAEA. – Reuters