China coronavirus death toll rises to 56, total cases near 2,000

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Medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city, work at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan on January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Pictures uploaded to social media on January 25, 2020 by the Central Hospital of Wuhan show medical staff attending to patients, in Wuhan, China. (Reuters)
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Passengers wear protective masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport, California, on January 22, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2020

China coronavirus death toll rises to 56, total cases near 2,000

  • The country’s most important celebration has been all-but canceled for people in a dozen cities who have been ordered to hunker down
  • China has launched a massive quarantine effort across much of Hubei province, affecting more than 40 million people

WUHAN, China: The death toll from a virus in China has risen to 56 and the number of people infected across the country is nearing 2,000, authorities said Sunday.
Fifteen more people have died and at least 688 new cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed, according to the National Health Commission.
Among the new deaths, 13 were in Hubei, the province at the heart of the outbreak, while Shanghai reported its first death.
At least 52 people have now died in total in Hubei, two in central Henan province, one in Heilongjiang in the northeast and one in Hebei in the north.
Hubei’s health authorities separately reported 323 new confirmed cases of the virus, which first emerged in the provincial capital, Wuhan, in late December.
Chinese authorities have so far reported 1,975 cases nationwide.
President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a “grave situation” as authorities raced to contain a respiratory illness that has caused the widespread abandonment of Lunar New Year celebrations nationwide and overwhelmed health facilities in Hubei.
The contagion remained centered on the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, which accounted for seven of the new deaths and 46 of the new confirmed cases, said the Hubei Health Commission.
Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities in the province have been locked down in a rapidly expanding quarantine effort marked by transport shutdowns and other restrictions on movement.
The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
It also has struck at possibly the worst time for China, when hundreds of millions of people are traveling across the country or overseas to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s most important festival.
Hundreds of military doctors have been sent to Hubei and authorities are rushing to build a pair of field hospitals to deal with the crisis as patients swamp local medical facilities.
The virus has spread nationwide in China and cases have been reported in several other countries as far away as the United States, France and Australia.
 


Parents of Pakistan students in China coronavirus center vent anger at ministers

Updated 19 February 2020

Parents of Pakistan students in China coronavirus center vent anger at ministers

  • Health minister Mirza said he would convey the parents’ anger at a cabinet meeting on Thursday
  • Pakistan has said its embassy in Beijing is supporting students and a two-person team traveled to Wuhan this week to meet students and gather more information about their situation

ISLAMABAD: Angry parents of Pakistani students stuck in the locked down province at the center of China’s coronavirus outbreak confronted government ministers at a meeting on Wednesday, demanding their children are evacuated.
Pakistan has so far ruled out bringing home the more than 1,000 students in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, where three-quarters of the more than 2,000 deaths from the outbreak of the flu-like virus have been recorded.
Health Minister Zafar Mirza and Minister for Overseas Citizens Zulfiqar Bukhari briefed parents for the first time on Wednesday, telling them the students’ welfare was better off in China and Pakistan did not have adequate facilities to quarantine them if they returned.
But hundreds interrupted the briefing, with some seizing microphones to say they did not want to listen to officials until their children were returned and dozens flooding the stage to crowd around the ministers.
“Bring our kids back, they have been in lockdown for 25 days...they are not getting any support...from you,” one family member who took the microphone said.
Health minister Mirza said he would convey the parents’ anger at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Pakistan has said its embassy in Beijing is supporting students and a two-person team traveled to Wuhan this week to meet students and gather more information about their situation.
The overseas citizens minister and a spokesman for the health minister did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.
More than 400 parents traveled from around the country to attend the meeting at a school in Islamabad and around 100 protested with placards outside after the meeting, blocking a nearby road. Protests in the larger cities of Lahore and Karachi were held last week.
Many students and their families have expressed growing frustration as the death toll in China mounts, pointing to other countries, including neighboring India and Bangladesh, evacuating their citizens.
Muhammad Wasim Akram, whose wife is a fourth year medical student in the city of Shiyan in Hubei, said he had traveled five hours to the meeting but was left disappointed.
“I traveled from Lahore to attend this nonsense. I feel nothing (has been done)...shame on the government,” he told Reuters, adding students’ mental health was eroding after being stuck inside for weeks, while their access to food and bottled water was limited.