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Home / World News / ‘Grave situation’: China races to contain Coronavirus as death toll shoots up to 80

‘Grave situation’: China races to contain Coronavirus as death toll shoots up to 80

President Xi Jinping has called the “accelerating spread” of the virus a “grave situation”. The government is attempting to spread out the 3 billion trips – by road, air, railways and boats -- expected in connection with the LNY holidays to prevent human-to-human transmission of the highly contagious virus.

world Updated: Jan 27, 2020 11:05 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Workers from local disease control and prevention department in protective suits disinfect a residential area following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in Ruichang, Jiangxi province, China January 25, 2020.
Workers from local disease control and prevention department in protective suits disinfect a residential area following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in Ruichang, Jiangxi province, China January 25, 2020. (Reuters file photo)

China early on Monday announced an unprecedented extension of the Lunar New Year (LNY) holidays in the latest attempt to contain the spread the of rapidly spreading novel Coronavirus that has killed at least 80 and infected nearly 2800.

Health experts said Sunday that the seven-day holiday window for the LNY – which started on January 25 -- was a “critical period” to contain the virus as hundreds of millions of Chinese will begin their return journey home at the end of it.

They said the ability of the virus to spread was getting stronger and that it could also infect during the 1 day-to-14 day incubation period.

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President Xi Jinping has called the “accelerating spread” of the virus a “grave situation”.

Numbers related to the Coronavirus, a previously unknown virus, are indeed surging: There were 24 deaths overnight and the central Chinese Hubei province, at the centre of the outbreak, reported 371 cases.

The government is attempting to spread out the 3 billion trips – by road, air, railways and boats -- expected in connection with the LNY holidays to prevent human-to-human transmission of the highly contagious virus.

“China announced Monday that the Lunar New Year holiday will be extended to February 2 as a measure to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak,” official news agency, Xinhua reported.

“The General Office of the State Council (China’s cabinet) said in an announcement that the measure is taken to effectively reduce mass gatherings, block the spread of the epidemic, and to better safeguard the safety and health of the Chinese people”>

The holiday started on Jan. 24 and was originally to end on Jan. 30.

Universities, primary and middle schools and kindergartens across the country will postpone the opening of the spring semester until further notice, the government has also instructed.

Tens millions of people in Hubei – along with the locked down capital, Wuhan – are facing transport restrictions, part of the government’s effort to isolate the virus in the region.

As many as 43 cases have been reported from other countries with the US confirming the fifth case on Sunday.

The highest number of cases has been reported from Thailand: 8.

Majority of the cases both in China and abroad have a connection to Wuhan where the virus is said to have emerged from seafood and fish market that also traded in wildlife.

Officials told reporters Sunday that information on the new virus is limited even though the pathogen was identified relatively quickly, and its transmission is increasing.

China banned wildlife trade across the country, prohibiting the shipping and sale of wild animals and quarantining breeding sites, with the government warning against the consumption of wild animals.

“Chinese authorities on Sunday also said the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps by authorities to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak,” the Bloomberg reported.

The report added that the US consulate in Wuhan plans to evacuate some Americans in a charter flight on Tuesday, and other governments and companies have said they are prepared to help their people leave the city that’s under lockdown.

“France is seeking approval to repatriate its citizens by mid-week, the health minister said Sunday. Japan also plans to evacuate nationals who wish to leave Wuhan, NHK said. More than 700 Japanese are believed to be in the city,” it said.