U.S. State Department Warns Against Travel to China and Blocks Recent Travelers from China
(Minghui.org) “Deaths Surpass 200, and State Department Urges Against Travel to China,” read a New York Times article published on January 30, 2020. Just one day after the travel advisory was issued amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the Secretary of Health announced on January 31 that the U.S. will will bar entry to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China during the past 14 days.
The U.S. is currently on a Level 4 Red travel advisory to China, which is its highest caution level, reserved for the most dangerous situations.
The New York Times article also gave the following updates.
Countries Cancel Flights to and from China after WHO Declares Global Health Emergency
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) also declared a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” about the outbreak, acknowledging the serious health threat by the virus outside of China.
Given the official declaration, countries can decide whether to close their borders, cancel flights, screen people arriving at airports, or take other measures to prevent the virus from spreading further.
According to The New York Times, the American Airlines pilots’ union said on January 30 that it was suing the airline in an attempt to halt all service between the United States and China, citing “a threat to the safety of passengers and flight crew.”
In a statement, the union, the Allied Pilots Association, said it was instructing its members to turn down requests to fly to China.
At the same time, United Airlines announced a new wave of cancellations affecting hundreds of flights through the end of March. The cutback, a response to declining demand, will reduce the number of daily flights from twelve to four from its United States hubs to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
The U.S. wasn’t the only country to cancel flights to and from China.
Only hours after the WHO declaration, the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced that Italy had blocked all flights to and from China as the country confirmed its first cases of the coronavirus.
Russia also suspended most flights with China, and its government declared an emergency, and closed down its 2,600-mile border along the Far Eastern District.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the closure of 16 of the approximately 25 crossing points that Russia operates on the Chinese border, in attempts to stop the infection from spreading to the country from Russia’s southeastern neighbor. Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Russians to postpone all travel to China, and suspended the issuance of electronic visas for Chinese citizens.
Coronavirus Spread Quickly Outside of China
According to The New York Times, the coronavirus is spreading fast outside of China.
In the U.S., the first case of person-to-person transmission was reported on January 30. The patient is the husband of a woman who was the first reported case in Chicago after traveling back from Wuhan. She was hospitalized but appears to be doing well. Her husband, who had not traveled to China, recently began showing symptoms and was immediately isolated in the hospital. Lab tests have now confirmed that he was infected with the coronavirus.
According to data provided by the Chinese government and WHO, nearly 2,000 new cases were recorded in China on January 29-30, 2020, raising the worldwide total to nearly 9,800. The vast majority of the cases are inside China; 98 cases have been confirmed in 18 other countries. Many experts estimated that such numbers are significantly underreported.
After Tibet reported its first confirmed case, all of China’s provinces and territories have now been affected by the outbreak.
By January 30, 14 cases of infection had been reported in Thailand; Japan’s cases have increased to 11; Hong Kong and Singapore each have 10; Taiwan has 8; Australia, Malaysia, and Macau each have 7; France and the United States have 6; South Korea, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates each have 4; Canada has 3; Vietnam and Italy each have 2; and India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Finland each have 1.
The first patient in India was a student at Wuhan University who recently returned to the southern state of Kerala. The Indian authorities said arriving passengers with a history of travel to China were being screened at 20 airports, up from seven earlier in the week.
Cases recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, and France involved patients who had not been to China. There have been no reported deaths outside China.
Outbreak Prompts More Foreign Companies to Leave China
The extended lockdown of Chinese cities also hit hard on the economy. Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Secretary said on January 30, 2020 that the coronavirus outbreak could prompt employers to move jobs back to the United States or Mexico.
Ross cited the outbreak of SARS and the African swine virus, and suggested that a prevalence of diseases in China would become a factor for businesses to leave the country and relocate to North America.
Wuhan Residents Lash Out Over the CCP’s Handling of the Outbreak
According to The New York Times, anger and frustration have escalated in Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, as the city’s overwhelmed hospitals pleaded for urgent help in replenishing diminishing supplies.
Footage from the broadcaster CCTV showed a central government inspection team grilling officials in Huanggang, a city about 50 miles from Wuhan, about the number of beds they had set aside for coronavirus patients. The two local health officials fumbled their responses to seemingly basic questions. Unusual in its blunt portrayal of inadequate government response, the CCTV report was quickly shared on Chinese social media sites with the hashtag “one question, three don’t knows.”
Officials say medical supplies are running dangerously low in central China, despite gear being delivered in bulk from around the world. The Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan wrote on Weibo, a social media platform, that the city had received 240,000 masks, 25,000 protective gowns and 4,000 pairs of medical goggles from its alumni group in Germany. The Chinese community in Singapore sent 75,000 medical masks.
Photographs posted online showed hospital workers, many still in protective gear, slumped over their desks and on the floors in exhaustion.
Since the central Chinese city of Wuhan went under official lockdown last week, most shops have closed, few cars venture onto the roads, and fear has kept most people in their homes.
When Wuhan residents do step outside, it’s mostly to supermarkets, food stores, and pharmacies. Many local residents complained about price hikes, and expressed fear that a prolonged shutdown might choke off food supplies. Poorer people, both in urban Wuhan and in the countryside, would suffer more acutely from tightening supplies.
“If we can’t bring in produce, it will become more expensive, or we might even have to close up,” said Zuo Qichao, who was selling piles of cucumbers, turnips, and tomatoes. As he spoke, a woman accused him of unfairly raising the price of turnips.
“Every county, and every village around here is now putting up barriers, worried about that disease,” Mr. Zuo said.
CCP Prioritizes Politics Over Lives
In Taiwan, anger has been growing over China’s refusal this week to let Taiwan evacuate about 300 of its people from Wuhan, even as it has given the United States, Japan and other countries permission to do so.
Kolas Yotaka, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s government, said China was prioritizing politics over lives. She said many of the Taiwanese seeking evacuation from Wuhan were tourists, or on business trips, while others were residents of the city who suffered from chronic diseases.
Yotaka called on the Chinese government to demonstrate basic humanity and agree to their request as soon as possible.
As part of its campaign to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, China has blocked it from participating in international bodies like the World Health Organization — a fact that has also angered Taiwanese people this week, as they try to prepare along with the rest of the world for the possibility of a worsening epidemic.