China's Foreign Ministry Says US Should Not Overreact to Coronavirus Outbreak

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2020

New cases were reported in the United States including a patient in California who was infected through close contact with someone in the same household who had been infected in China.

Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee on Monday the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus. He also said those who neglect their duties will be punished, state broadcaster CCTV reported. The semi-autonomous territory shut nearly all of its land and sea border crossings with the mainland at midnight after medical workers began a strike demanding the border be closed completely. Hong Kong was hit hard by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-03.

Chinese authorities have tried to stop the spread by instituting bans on movement in certain regions, and extending holidays to keep people away from schools and other large gatherings. Passengers and crew will be kept on board through Tuesday night until they can be screened for coronavirus.

The city had previously planned two makeshift hospitals, Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, with 2,600 beds in total for the treatment of the patients infected with the virus.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO's director of epidemic and pandemic diseases, told reporters in Geneva Tuesday the outbreak is at the phase "where it is an epidemic with multiple foci".

Chinese scientists said they have more evidence the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan in December, likely originated in bats.

Wuhan city and Hubei province are still regarded as the epicentre of the coronavirus and a priority for containment.

But four cases are suspected to be local transmissions, including two people confirmed on Tuesday afternoon who have no history of recent travel to the mainland.

Despite its increasing detection in numerous countries, the World Health Organization says the outbreak of the new coronavirus has not yet reached the level of a pandemic.

It is South Korea's 16th case. One death has also been confirmed in the Philippines. Australia sent hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, while Japan ordered the quarantine of a cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 people after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for coronavirus.

The Diamond Princess returned to Yokohama after making port calls in Vietnam, Taiwan and Okinawa.

The authority said the strike was having a "serious impact". Frequent hand-washing and other hygiene measures were required, she said.

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