Chinese authorities expanded “wartime” measures to combat coronavirus when the United States called on Beijing to be more transparent than the outbreak.
Coronavirus victims reached nearly 1,400, with over 5,000 new cases reported on Friday, dampening the optimism that the virus will soon be contained.
At a meeting of senior executives in Beijing that spearheaded the government’s response to the crisis, officials demanded that other areas “take the same quarantine and bailout measures as Wuhan,” which has been blocked for more than two weeks, including centralization and patient quarantine.
The meeting, held on Thursday and chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, invited Wuhan to “speed up” the classification and quarantine of residents suspected or confirmed to have contracted the virus.
It came when a senior White House official called on Beijing to be more open.
“We are a little disappointed that we have not been invited and we are a little disappointed by the lack of transparency from the Chinese,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council told reporters.
Kudlow said that President Xi Jinping had assured President Donald Trump that Beijing would accept US help, but “they will not leave us.”
“I don’t know what their reasons are. I know that apparently more and more people are suffering over there,” he said. “Is the Politburo really honest with us?” He asked, referring to the highest leadership body of communist China.
In Huanggang, one of the hardest hit areas outside Wuhan with over 2,000 cases and at least 59 dead, the authorities issued emergency measures for 14 days, “completely sealing” all residential areas and banning vehicles, except for those emergency, medical or official purposes.
Checkpoints will be established and public security systems will be deployed to implement the measures. The local district committee organizes necessary supplies to residents. “All residents should not enter or leave their communities without authorization,” said the notice.
In Dawu County, in central Hubei, which is home to over 600,000 people, officials also issued an emergency notice on Thursday afternoon that residential areas and buildings would be sealed and vehicles banned. Those who violate the rules “will be detained under wartime rules.” “In extraordinary times, extraordinary actions are needed,” said the warning.
In the Zhangwan District of Shiyan City, the authorities imposed similar restrictions and claimed that public security would help implement the measures. Gucheng County and Yunmeng County also implemented the same measures over a 14-day period.
As the country tries to slowly return to work in an attempt to keep the economy going, many areas remain paralyzed by the virus. In Shanghai, residents face increasingly stringent quarantine measures. A village has banned all cars and residents outside, a measure also adopted in many residential complexes in Beijing.
Officials said that “peak” will not be seen on return trips after the Lunar New Year holidays this year and that all parts of the country should “continue protection and control measures”. Containing the virus in Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December, is still of “utmost importance” for achieving “economic and social development” this year, officials said.
The number of coronavirus deaths in China was reviewed on Friday 1380, after a huge peak on Thursday. The National Health Commission removed 108 deaths after discovering “duplicate statistics” in Hubei province, which was hit hard, according to its daily update, without giving further details.
Outside of China, one person died in Japan from the virus on Thursday night. The Japanese health ministry said an 80-year-old woman living in Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo, has died. She had been moved from hospital to hospital as her condition deteriorated and she was confirmed to have coronavirus only after her death.
His death brings the death toll outside the mainland to three. The government said it would step up testing and containment efforts.
Meanwhile, the U.S. state department has expressed deep concern about North Korea’s vulnerability to the outbreak. The statement comes as North Korea struggles to strengthen quarantine and preventative measures.
North Korea has not yet reported a case of the new virus, but state media reports have suggested that an uncertain number of people have been quarantined after showing symptoms. Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be terrible because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health infrastructure.
Passengers on a cruise ship who spent two weeks at sea after being pushed back by five countries for fear of coronavirus began landing in Cambodia on Friday.
The MS Westerdam, which carried 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, is docked Thursday in the Cambodian port city of Sihanoukville. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted passengers with handshakes and bouquets of roses as they got off the ship and boarded a waiting bus.
Additional reports by Pei Wu Lin