China's Health Workers Are Frontline Fighters Against the Virus

So far over 1,700 doctors and nurses became infected while preventing the spread of coronavirus.

China’s National Health Commission deputy director Zeng Yixin informed that extensive and strenuous working days are putting pressure on health workers who are physically and psychologically stressed.

RELATED: China: Possible Cases Increase Due to New Diagnostic Criteria

He called on hospitals' authorities to distribute shifts rationally while proposing to reward the staff with more vacations when the outbreak remits and offer them psychological support.​​​

Thanks to the Chinese doctors and nurses, measures to contain the spread of the epidemic would not be possible. However, their effort has also been accompanied by greater exposure to risk.

So far 1,716 health workers have been infected with the virus and six have already died.

The Finance Ministry allocated US$3.7 billion to acquire medical supplies and to improve the conditions of health workers.

Also, medical personnel who are directly exposed to the virus will receive a salary supplement of up to US$43 per day.

@ChinaDaily

The first batch of masks produced by SGMW Automobile, a joint venture between General Motors and Liuzhou Wuling Motors, rolled off line on Thursday in Liuzhou, S China's Guangxi.

On Friday, the Chinese health authorities also announced that the number of new cases registered outside the province of Hubei has declined for ten consecutive days. But there's still too much to do.

Chen Yixin, a member of the committee responsible for overseeing the crisis management in Hubei, said that the number of infected people has not yet been estimated with certainty in the city of Wuhan.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has left 1,380 dead and more than 63,500 confirmed cases in China. Hubei Province records 81 percent of cases and 96 percent of deaths.

Up to now, 6,700 people have been discharged because they managed to overcome the disease.

 

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Tokyo 2020 chief dismisses "irresponsible rumours" of Olympics cancellation

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō has labelled suggestions this year's Olympics and Paralympics could be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak as "irresponsible rumours" and reiterated his insistence that the Games will go ahead as planned.

Speaking during the latest International Olympic Committee (IOC) project review of Tokyo 2020, Mutō said organisers "would like to make it clear again that we are not considering postponing or cancelling the Games".

Concerns over the impact of the virus, given the official name of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the Games in the Japanese capital have grown in recent weeks.

But Tokyo 2020 officials have repeatedly stressed the Olympics - due to begin with the Opening Ceremony in 162 days on July 24 - and Paralympics will take place as scheduled.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe promised earlier this month that the country would "respond appropriately" and work closely with the WHO to ensure preparations for Tokyo 2020 are not affected by the virus.

Muto, however, admitted last week that he was "seriously worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games".

More than 1,350 people in neighbouring China have been killed by the virus, which originated in Wuhan, while there are thought to be almost 60,000 infections in total.

Japan today confirmed its first death from the virus, while 247 cases have so far been reported in the country.

The outbreak of the virus has caused concern for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
The outbreak of the virus has caused concern for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The outbreak has forced the postponement of numerous sporting events, including the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing.

Events in several sports, including Olympic qualifiers, have either been cancelled, postponed or moved out of China because of the virus.

It has also prevented Chinese athletes from travelling to events outside of the nation, which could curtail their presence at Tokyo 2020.

Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Village Mayor Saburo Kawabuchi conceded during the project review meeting that organisers "don’t have any clue when this issue will be resolved".

"The biggest concern is the coronavirus and the infection," he said. 

"Based on various pieces of information we receive, it seems that this virus is not as strong as the influenza virus. 

"The virus is susceptible to humidity and heat. 

"In Japan, we have the rainy season which could defeat the virus."

The meeting is being attended by senior IOC member and Coordination Commission chairman John Coates, while IOC medical and scientific director Richard Budgett is also present.

The IOC is expecting regular updates from organisers and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government regarding the virus so they can see the "necessary precautions that are being taken", Coates said.

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Chinese Doctor, Among First To Warn About Coronavirus Outbreak, Dies

Beijing: A Chinese doctor who was among the first to warn publicly about the new coronavirus outbreak -- and was reprimanded by authorities for his candor -- died of the infection early on Friday, his hospital announced.

Li Wenliang was working as an ophthalmologist in the virus epicentre city of Wuhan when he observed patients with symptoms similar to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03.

The 34-year-old sent out a message to colleagues on December 30, but was later among eight whistleblowers summoned by police for "rumour-mongering."

He later contracted the disease while treating a patient and has been hailed as a hero by Chinese internet users.

Wuhan Central Hospital in Hubei province, where Li worked, confirmed his death in a brief posting on its verified account on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

"Ophthalmologist Li Wenliang of our hospital, who was unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic from the novel coronavirus, died at 2:58 a.m. on February 7, 2020 despite all-out efforts to save him."

"We deeply regret and mourn this."

More than 560 people have died and 28,000 have been infected in China, where authorities are still struggling to contain the outbreak despite ordering millions of people indoors in a growing number of cities.

After seeing patients with SARS-like symptoms, Li messaged a warning to colleagues to wear protective masks and clothing.

He was summoned along with eight others four days later by police for "rumour mongering", according to a Weibo post he wrote from a hospital bed after contracting the disease in mid-January.

Li said he was told to sign a letter accusing him of making "false comments" that had "severely disturbed the social order."

China's supreme court, however, last week said the whistleblowers were treated "inappropriately."

Chinese web-users have expressed growing anger at Hubei officials for wasting valuable time with a slow response and alleged attempts to hide an outbreak that has since ballooned into a global health crisis with cases in around two dozen countries.

There was confusion hours earlier after several Chinese media outlets announced Li's death before quickly taking down their articles and social media posts.

Li's death sparked grief and outrage on Chinese social media, where netizens hailed him as a martyr.

"He is a hero who warned others with his life," one user, an orthopaedic surgeon, wrote on Weibo.

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Trump says Xi’s ‘sharp’ leadership will defeat coronavirus in U-turn on harsh anti-China rhetoric

Donald Trump says China will defeat the deadly coronavirus, thanks to its great discipline and Xi Jinping’s strong leadership, as the US president’s tone on Beijing softens following the recent signing of a new trade deal.

The two leaders discussed the outbreak of the virus, which has claimed 640 lives in China, during a phone call on Friday.

That provided the perfect grounds for an attack on Beijing, but Trump, who earlier blasted China for currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and election meddling, was this time reluctant to take advantage of the dire health crisis in order to attack Beijing.

On the contrary the US president’s evaluation of the Chinese state and leader was a lot more positive; it follows the US-China trade war ending in January with the signing of what he called the “biggest deal there is.”

@realDonaldTrump

Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but...

@realDonaldTrump

....he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!

Xi is “strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the coronavirus,” Trump tweeted in the wake of the phone call. He praised China for “great discipline” and “building hospitals in a matter of only days.”

Nothing is easy, but he [Xi] will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.

The US president also said that Washington was “working closely” with Beijing to help the country counter the disease.

Trump’s latest tweets again underline the discord inside his administration as his top officials maintain their harsh anti-Chinese stance despite the trade deal; one week ago US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the Chinese Communist Party, which is headed by Xi, “the central threat of our times.”

Also on rt.com Pompeo names ‘the central threat of our times’ and guess what it is… It’s the Chinese Communist Party....

Pompeo’s statement was fully in line with the National Defense Strategy (NDA), which was unveiled by the US Department of Defense two years ago and described China as “predatory,” and a “strategic competitor,” which required “increased and sustained investment” to be kept in check.

China, in turn, consistently blasted Washington for its “Cold War mentality” and “hegemonic logic.” Beijing further accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs by sending ships and warplanes close to its waters in the Pacific, as well as supporting protests in Hong Kong. In late January, it also slammed the travel warning issued by the State Department over the coronavirus outbreak as “truly mean.”

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China Accuses US of Creating Panic Over Coronavius

Since the start of the new year, nearly 15,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported across the world, with the vast majority of them in China.

China has accused the United States of creating panic across the world over the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has caused over 360 deaths since early January.

RELATED: China Completes Emergency Hospital in 9 Days For Virus Outbreak

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the U.S. has caused fears over the spread of the virus by imposing travel restrictions and evacuations from China.

In particular, China accused the United States of spreading fear by pulling its nationals out and restricting travel instead of offering significant aid. This move by the U.S. comes just weeks after the two countries reached an historical trade agreement.

Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the WHO had advised against trade and travel curbs.

“It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations,” she added, saying countries should make reasonable, calm and science-based judgements.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva, again said travel bans were unnecessary.

“There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he told the WHO’s Executive Board. “We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.”

Chinese delegate Li Song said the international community needed to treat the new virus outbreak objectively, fairly and not “deliberately create panic” among the general public.

Li said China had shared information about the virus with self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as sovereign territory, but he criticised the Taiwanese authorities for what he described as their “lies and excuses” for not attending WHO meetings.

The death toll in China from the newly identified virus, which emerged in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, rose to 361 as of Sunday, up 57 from the previous day, the National Health Commission said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week declared the flu-like virus a global emergency and it has since spread to 23 other countries and regions, with the first death outside of China reported on Sunday, that of a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after travelling from Wuhan.

Wuhan and some other cities remain in virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted, and China is facing increasing international isolation.

  • Published in World

Coronavirus Pneumonia: 9,822 Confirmed Cases Reported Worldwide

The European Union will support research that contributes to more efficient management of patients.

A total of 9,822 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) were reported in China and other countries by Friday morning, with the death toll standing at 213. 

RELATED: Coronavirus Is a Business Opportunity: US Secretary of Commerce

Of the total number, 9,720 were reported in China, with 213 dead and 179 recovered. There are 102 confirmed cases outside of China.

Thailand and Japan have 14 each, while Singapore has 13. There are also a handful of cases in Australia, Malaysia, France, and the United States. And Italy has confirmed its first two cases.

Authorities around the world have been offering up conflicting messages even as they sought to calm panic buying of masks seen as a guard against coronavirus. Some experts said the wrong handling of masks could even increase infection risk of the epidemic.

@QuakerNana
No one wants this virus. These are dedicated & brave medical personnel fighting for every blessed one of us across the globe. A huge THANK YOU to all in #China serving those who are sick and those who are dying. The world is rooting for you.
 
@IrfanNasirJanj1
He is a doctor
 
This is d moment, before he leaves his wife to Wuhan, treat virus patients.This is a coronovirus suicide mission &many of these brave doctors &nurses won't come back to their loved ones. "God bless them". Human Story is same everywhere #CoronavirusOutbreak

In Singapore, for instance, the government has taken out a special insert in the main newspaper saying, "do not wear a mask if you are well."

Authorities around the world have been offering up conflicting messages even as they sought to calm panic buying of masks seen as a guard against coronavirus. Some experts said that the wrong handling of masks could even increase the infection risk of the epidemic.

In Singapore, for instance, the government has taken out a special insert in the main newspaper saying, "do not wear a mask if you are well."

Official guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) makes no mention of wearing a face mask as a preventative measure against the virus.

Coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, although it is not clear how easily. Most cases have been in people who have been in Wuhan, family members of those infected, or medical workers.

On Thursday, the European Commission (EC) indicated that the Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Program will allocate ten million euros to research projects that allow a better understanding of the coronavirus and "contribute to a more efficient clinical management of infected patients."

According to what is known so far, the transmission of the coronavirus pneumonia is likely through contact with an infected person via particles in the air from coughing or sneezing, or by someone touching an infected person or object with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

 

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Coronavirus forces postponement of World Athletics Indoor Championships in China

The World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled for the Chinese city of Nanjing in March, has been postponed until 2021 as a consequence of the coronavirus epidemic, officials said.

“It is with regret that we have agreed with the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (13-15 March 2020) to postpone the event to March 2021,” the sport's governing body said in a statement.

“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the coronavirus, both within China and outside the country, is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.”

The championships are the latest sports event to be hit by the virus which as of Wednesday had seen some 6,000 cases confirmed in China with at least 132 fatalities.

READ | 'Little risk' from coronavirus for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics test event

The virus has spread from the epicentre of Wuhan to more than 15 countries, with about 60 cases in Asia, Europe, North America and, most recently, the Middle East.

World Athletics said they had considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country but “given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date”.

“We would like Nanjing to be the host given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event.

“We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organising committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event.”

Earlier Wednesday, World Cup skiing races in the Chinese resort of Yanqing, the first test events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, were cancelled because of the outbreak.

The men's downhill and super-G races were scheduled for February 15 and February 16 in Yanqing, 70 kilometres (45 miles) northwest of Beijing.

In Australia, the China's women's football team has been quarantined in a Brisbane hotel after arriving for an Olympic qualifying competition.

ALSO READ | Virus fears prompt venue switch for AFC Champions League

All home games for Chinese football clubs in the AFC Champions League's group stage in February and March will be rescheduled and played as away fixtures.

The change affects four Chinese clubs and their South Korean opponents.

The Asian Football Confederation said the decision was a “precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all participating players and teams”.

Elsewhere, the International Tennis Federation has already said next week's Fed Cup's Asia/Oceania Group I event had been moved from Dongguan, southern China, to Kazakhstan.

The women's team event, involving China, Taiwan, India, South Korea and Uzbekistan will now be held in the Kazakh capital on the originally scheduled dates, February 4-8.

The Asian indoor athletics championships planned for February 12-13 in Hangzhou have also been cancelled.

 
 
  • Published in Sports

10-Year-Old Boy Raises Fears Coronavirus Could Spread Undetected

The case of a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus even though he showed no symptoms is raising concern that people may be spreading the virus undetected by the front-line screening methods implemented to contain the epidemic.

The boy was part of a family who visited relatives in the central Chinese city over the New Year. While his parents and grandparents fell ill and were treated after they returned to their hometown, the 10-year-old appeared healthy and was only diagnosed with the virus after his parents insisted he too was tested, his doctors said, adding that he "was shedding virus without symptoms."

"You may have mild disease spreaders that would be feeding sort of a community outbreak and they don't go to hospital because they don't feel that bad," said Ralph Baric, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has studied coronaviruses for decades and warned about their threat before the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The boy's case, published Jan. 24 in the Lancet medical journal, was the first to demonstrate person-to-person and health-care associated spread of the newly identified virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV. The asymptomatic infection has fueled concern the pathogen, which has already spread to 15 countries and infected close to 6,000 people, may turn out to be harder to detect and contain than SARS, the similar pneumonia-like illness that erupted into a global epidemic.

While both the boy's parents were infected, each had a normal body temperature when they sought treatment. Later, the virus spread to a sixth relative who hadn't traveled.

Similar patterns are appearing outside China. Four cases in Germany were linked to a company training event that was attended by a colleague visiting from China who had no symptoms of disease during her stay.

'Walking Pneumonia'

"These cryptic cases of walking pneumonia might serve as a possible source to propagate the outbreak," Kwok-Yung Yuen and colleagues the University of Hong Kong, said in the Lancet paper.

The boy's family flew from their home in Shenzhen, a city in the south of the country next to Hong Kong, to Wuhan on Dec. 29 to visit relatives, including one who was in a hospital. Two days after they arrived, the Health Commission of Hubei province announced that a group of 27 people in the city had unexplained cases of pneumonia, a statement that received little notice outside of the city at the time.

Within three to five days in Wuhan, four family members gradually developed symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue and diarrhea. On their return home, they were diagnosed with 2019-nCoV based on a viral analysis and lung scan.

The 10-year-old boy's lungs were also scanned "on the insistence by the nervous parents" and showed signs of infection, which was confirmed by swabs of the back of his nose and throat. That meant he was capable of transmitting the virus even though the kind of tests used in airport screening for the virus would not identify him as a carrier.

'Unexpected Finding'

It was "a rather unexpected finding," Yuen and colleagues wrote. Yet it doesn't come as a complete surprise to doctors in China trying to unravel the means and ways the new virus is spreading.

"Children and infants' symptoms are comparatively mild, while older people have more severe symptoms, as of our findings so far," Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Wednesday.

"One of the worrying things is the walking pneumonia and especially the younger kids in whom you don't get as much of an immune reaction," said John Nicholls, a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong and part of the research team that isolated and characterized the SARS virus.

As more cases of the new coronavirus appear around the world, doctors and medical research teams are rushing to try to develop a vaccine or treatments that could prevent its spread. But, as in the SARS outbreak, the most effective methods are thought to be in identifying and isolating patients soon after infection, and then tracing and isolating their potential contacts.

Locked Down

China has locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and imposed travel restrictions within China and to Hong Kong and Macau in an attempt to combat the epidemic. But evidence that children may be able to contract and spread the disease without showing acute symptoms may complicate those efforts.

"Public health controlled SARS because SARS let it," said Mark Denison, director of infectious diseases and and a pediatrics professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. That's unlike influenza, where a larger portion of patients transmit the virus while they are silently incubating the infection.

"So the question is, is this virus more SARS-like, or is it more flu-like?" Denison said. "The data suggests that it's somewhere in the middle: that it is a more mild disease, but that there may be more transmission."

--With assistance from Claire Chen and Tim Loh.

  • Published in World
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