China To Probe Doctor’s Death As Coronavirus Toll Reaches 636
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China to probe doctor’s death as coronavirus toll reaches 636

By IANS Updated: Feb 07, 2020 11:21 pm
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In this photo, medical workers in a protective suit help patients diagnosed with the coronaviruses as they arrive at a temporary hospital transformed from an exhibition centre in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. (PTI)

Beijing, Feb. 7 (IANS): The Chinese government governments highest anti-corruption agency is sending an investigation team to Hubei following public outrage over the death of a doctor who sounded an early alarm about the new coronavirus that has killed 636 people in the Asian country as of Friday.

The National Supervisory Commission said the team would conduct a “comprehensive investigation” into the issues raised by the public about Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who died on Friday, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper said in a report.

The commission did not specify the issues of public concern, but angry posts on China’s social media platform Weibo about why the police stopped and reprimanded Li when he warned his friends on WeChat about the new virus have overwhelmed the Internet.

Li, who worked in a Wuhan hospital, was declared dead at 2.58 am on Friday morning by Wuhan Central Hospital, just days after he said he was infected with the coronavirus.

Li was one of the whistle-blowers who alerted his friends about the outbreak last December and was reprimanded by police for spreading inaccurate information.

Internet censorship was toughened in response to the outrage, with many posts on social media platforms Weibo and WeChat expressing anger and criticism of government officials quickly deleted, the SCMP said.

In a statement, the Wuhan government said: “We express our deep condolences and regrets! We pay tribute to his sticking to the front line in fighting the epidemic, and offer our sincere condolences to his family.”

The development comes as the toll in China due to the fast-spreading virus increased to 636, with 31,161 confirmed cases, China’s National Health Commission said on Friday morning.

On Thursday, the Commission received reports of 3,143 new confirmed cases and 73 deaths from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Xinhua news agency reported.

It added that 4,821 patients remained in severe condition, while 26,359 others were suspected of being infected with the virus.

CCTV reported that, in a phone conversation with Trump, Xi said the Chinese government and people had put their fullest efforts into containing the outbreak since it had started.

In response, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump had expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the outbreak.

Also on Friday, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set up a special fund of 300 billion yuan ($43 billion) to provide targeted support to suppliers of key virus-related resources such as masks and sterilisers, as well as daily necessities, with China’s Ministry of Finance compensating half of the interest payments.

The virus has spread overseas, with 25 nations reporting confirmed cases, although there have so far been only two deaths outside mainland China in the Philippines and China.

The other countries where coronavirus cases have been reported are Japan (45), Singapore (28), Thailand (25), Hong Kong (24), South Korea (23), Taiwan (16), Australia (14), Germany (12), the US (12), Malaysia (12), Macao (10), Vietnam (10), France (six), UAE (five), Canada (five), India (three), Philippines (three), the UK (three), Italy (two), Russia (two), Cambodia (one), Finland (one), Nepal (one), Sri Lanka (one), Spain (one) and Sweden (one), according to the BBC.

Manipur, Mizoram impose ban on Chinese imports

Imphal/Aizawl, Feb. 7 (IANS): Amid fears over the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) across the country, Manipur and Mizoram governments have imposed restrictions on imports of foodstuffs and other items from China, Myanmar and other South-East Asian countries, officials said on Friday.

Officials in Imphal said that the Manipur Health and Family Welfare Department has issued a notification restricting on production, distribution, sale of any packed food products, which are not marked and labelled properly as per regulations or packed and produced in China, Myanmar and other South-East Asian countries.

“The Chinese food and various other products including second-hand or used clothes are sold in the bordering markets of India-Myanmar along Manipur. People have been advised not to purchase or use these items,” the official said.

Meanwhile, a district official said that following the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, the district authorities have decided to close the international trade route through the two border villages under the border district of Ukhrul (in eastern Manipur) to Myanmar as a preventive measure from February 9.

“The villagers themselves also have decided to shut the Tusom-Somra road to prevent foreign traders from entering India as well as Indian traders to go to the border markets,” the official said.

An official in Aizawl said that the authorities in Mizoram districts along the Myanmar border also asked the people not to use the Chinese products especially the food and clothing.

Officials in Aizawl also said five people, who had returned to the state from China early January, have been kept under house quarantine in view of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the neighbouring country.

An official of Mizoram Health Department said though all the five persons did not show any sign of being infected with the virus and both of them tested negative for the deadly virus, they were put under house quarantine as a precautionary measure.

To check the threat of 2019-nCoV, Indian authorities have set up screening and testing centres along the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

A medical team comprising doctors and health staff since Tuesday has been conducting medical check-up at Zokhawthar (an India-Myanmar border check-post in Champhai district of eastern Mizoram) for the travellers across the borders based on their health status and travel history.

Manipur Health and Family Welfare Department had also deployed medical officers along India-Myanmar border towns of Moreh and Behiang to screen all people — both foreigners and Indians — entering India after travelling from China or any other neighbouring countries.

Screening and testing centres are now also operational in the check-posts along India-Bangladesh borders with Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

By IANS Updated: Feb 07, 2020 11:21:58 pm
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