China on Monday said that the toll in the novel coronavirus outbreak had risen to 80, AFP reported. The country’s National Health Commission said 2,744 people have been diagnosed with the illness so far, of which 461 are in a serious condition.
On Sunday, China issued a blanket ban on wildlife trade, the South China Morning Post reported. The ban goes into effect immediately and will continue until the national epidemic ends. Health authorities have linked exotic animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan to the origin of the coronavirus. Wuhan is the epicentre of the virus and has been in a lockdown over the past few days.
“Consumers should fully understand the health risks of eating wild animals, avoid ‘game meat’, and eat healthily,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the State Administration for Market Regulation, and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration said in a joint statement on Sunday.
As many as 19 leading scientists had called for the elimination of the consumption and trade of wild animals last week, in a post on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform used in China. The group said many emerging infectious diseases have been linked to animals in recent years, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, bird flu, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
Apart from Hubei province, China has imposed drastic travel restrictions in Shangdong province and four cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Tianjin. These cities have banned long-distance buses from entering or leaving.
The southern province of Guangdong, Jiangxi in central China, and three cities have made it mandatory for residents to wear face masks in public.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus headed to Beijing on Monday to meet Chinese government officials. “My WHO colleagues and I would like to understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak,” he said.
‘Separate Indian students from their families’
Meanwhile, Gao Fu, the director-general of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday that Indian authorities should “swiftly separate” from their families students who have returned to the country from China and exhibit symptoms of the illness, the Hindustan Times reported. Gao said that for those not experiencing symptoms, home quarantine would be sufficient.
“A lot of Indian students studying in China are back in India,” Gao said. “I think the measures the students should take when they go back to India are the same as Wuhan’s university when they returned to China’s other cities including Beijing,” Gao said on the sidelines of a press briefing of the National Health Commission in Beijing.
While massive screening is taking place at Indian airports for passengers returning from China, and no case has been reported in India so far, the coronavirus has spread to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Nepal, Singapore and Canada.
In India, nearly 200 people have been kept under observation in Kerala and Maharashtra, following screening for possible exposure to the virus. The Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday reviewed India’s preparedness to deal with the situation. India has also requested China to permit over 250 Indian students stuck in Wuhan to leave the city.