World Health Organization launches campaign against China virus misinformation

Cheryl Sanders
February 5, 2020

The Philippine Health Department said a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the crisis, was hospitalized January 25 with a fever, cough, and sore throat and died after developing severe pneumonia.

However, several countries have ramped up border controls including bans on foreign nationals who have recently been to China from entering their territories.

The United States has taken decisive action to protect Americans from the threat of a fast-moving coronavirus while offering help to China, President Donald Trump said on Sunday, but a key adviser said Beijing had not accepted the offers of assistance. Huanggang, with a population of 7.5 million in Hubei province, is allowing just one representative from each household to leave their home every other day to go out for grocery shopping in order to minimise the flow of people in the city.

Asked whether the US had offered assistance in containing the epidemic as reported by media outlets over the past few days, Hua said that as far as she knew, the USA government has not offered any "substantial help", although many countries have offered donations and assistance.

Among the new fatalities reported on Sunday, 56 were from Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

China Evergrande Group, the nation's third-largest property developer, said in an internal note it would extend its Lunar New Year holiday to February 16, and suspend construction work at all of its 1,246 sites until February 20.

Mr Trump appeared to downplay concerns about the impact in the United States of the flu-like virus that has killed 350 people in China and spread to more than two dozen countries, telling Fox television in an interview, "We're gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes".

The woman, who returned to Vietnam with seven other coworkers overseas on the same flight, was an employee of Japan-based Nihon Plast Company, the outlet said.

World Health Organization has also advised against "measures that unnecessarily interfere with global travel and trade", at a time when a wide range of countries are advising against travel to China and even closing their borders to people travelling from the country.

Hong Kong - which has a population of seven million - is part of China but retains significant autonomy.

Stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen plunged by almost nine percent on Monday morning as investors returned from a Lunar New Year holiday that had been extended to stop people travelling around China. He had visited Wuhan last month and his 72-year-old mother was also infected.

The number of deaths in China has now passed the total Chinese toll from the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that emerged from China and killed nearly 800 people around the world.

A total of 475 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

"We're working closely and hand-in-hand with the Chinese government to try and resolve what is now this global epidemiological challenge", Pompeo said.

New Zealand and Vietnam also barred foreigners who have been in China, with Vietnam saying it would halt all flights to and from China. Meanwhile, the domestic economy continues to slow down, weighed by slowing demand and the trade war with Washington.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the opening of WHO's executive board meeting on Monday that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation and rumours about the virus and outbreak that first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December and has now spread to 23 other countries.

A cultural building, an exhibition centre and a gymnasium have also been converted into improvised clinics with 3,400 beds. One of the facilities was built in eight days.

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