China disinfects BANK NOTES and quarantines them for 14 days as Beijing announces 143 new coronavirus deaths and 2,641 additional cases while death toll hits 1,526
- Chinese banks use ultraviolet light then seal and store the cash for up to 14 days
- The banks have been urged to provide new banknotes to customers if possible
- Central bank made an emergency issuance of four billion yuan in new notes
China has today started disinfecting and isolating used banknotes in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) that has killed 1,526 people.
Banks use ultraviolet light or high temperatures to disinfect yuan bills, then they seal and store the cash for seven to 14 days – depending on the severity of the outbreak in a particular region – before recirculating them.
The virus, which has infected 66,492 people in China and spread to more than two dozen other countries, has sparked a rush to disinfect public places and minimise contact between people.
China has today started disinfecting and isolating used banknotes in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) that has killed 1,526 people. Pictured is a woman spraying banknotes during a previous quarantine
Pharmacies across the country sold out of disinfectants and surgical masks in just days. Pictured are workers disinfecting an area in Beijing
Pharmacies across the country sold out of disinfectants and surgical masks in just days after a lockdown was announced in late January on Wuhan city, where the Covid-19 illness is believed to have emerged.
Office buildings have installed packets of tissue in elevators that tenants are encouraged to use when pressing buttons, while ride-hailing company Didi exhorts drivers to disinfect their cars daily.
Fan Yifei, deputy governor of China’s central bank, today said that banks have been urged to provide new banknotes to customers whenever possible.
Banks use ultraviolet light or high temperatures to disinfect yuan bills, then they seal and store the cash for seven to 14 days. Pictured is a woman spraying banknotes during a previous quarantine
The virus, which has now killed 1,523 people and infected 66,492 people in China, has spread to more than two dozen other countries since the outbreak in January. Pictured are workers disinfecting an area in Beijing
The central bank made an ’emergency issuance’ of four billion yuan in new notes to Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, prior to the recent Lunar New Year holiday, Fan added.
The measures are intended to ‘secure the public’s safety and health when using cash’, Fan said.
But it is unclear how wide an impact the central bank’s disinfection work will have, with increasing numbers of Chinese people preferring mobile payments over cash in recent years.
In 2017, nearly three quarters of Chinese respondents told an Ipsos survey they could survive a whole month without using more than 100 yuan in cash.
Pharmacies across the country sold out of disinfectants and surgical masks in just days after a lockdown was announced in late January on Wuhan city
Fan Yifei, deputy governor of China’s central bank, today said that banks have been urged to provide new banknotes to customers whenever possible
According to the World Health Organization, Covid-19 can be spread through contaminated objects in addition to droplets and direct contact with infected patients.
China reported 2,641 new cases today – a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.
The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523.
HOW THE CORONAVIRUS HAS SPREAD OVER TIME
The vast majority of coronavirus cases have been in mainland China, but more than 25 other countries and territories have declared infections:
- Egypt: 1 case, first case February 14
- Belgium: 1 case, first case February 4
- Spain: 2 case, first case January 31
- Sweden: 1 case, first case January 31
- Russia: 2 cases, first case January 31
- UK: 9 cases, first case January 31
- India: 3 cases, first case January 30
- Philippines: 3 cases, first case January 30
- Italy: 3 cases, first case January 30
- Finland: 1 case, first case January 29
- United Arab Emirates: 8 cases, first case January 29
- Germany: 16 cases, first case Jan 27
- Sri Lanka: 1 case, first case Jan 27
- Cambodia: 1 case, first case Jan 27
- Canada: 7 cases, first case Jan 25
- Australia: 15 cases, first case Jan 25
- Malaysia: 19 cases, first case Jan 25
- France: 11 cases, first case January 24
- Nepal: 1 case, first case January 24
- Vietnam: 16 cases, first case Jan 24
- Singapore: 58 cases, first case January 23
- Macau: 10 cases, first case Jan 22
- Hong Kong: 53 cases, first case January 22
- Taiwan: 18 cases, first case Jan 21
- USA: 15 cases, first case January 20
- South Korea: 28 cases, first case January 20
- Japan: 251 cases, first case January 16
- Thailand: 33 cases, first case Jan 13
Covid-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, has spread to more than two dozen countries since December, when the first infections appeared in central China. Egypt on Friday counted the first infection on the African continent.
Today marks the second day the number of new cases fell since a spike Thursday, when the hardest-hit province of Hubei began including clinical diagnoses in its official count.
Using the wider scope of classification, the central Chinese province reported 15,152 cases, including 13,332 that were diagnosed using doctors’ analyses and lung imaging, as opposed to the prior standard of laboratory testing.
Hubei health authorities said in the notice that the new method was adopted to facilitate earlier treatment for those suspected of infection.
Further confusion surfaced around a discrepancy of more than 1,000 cases between the Thursday and Friday reports. National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said Friday that the ‘decrease’ in numbers was due to an adjustment made in Hubei’s count after repetitive counting was discovered.
The ruling Communist Party is seeking to repair public trust broken in 2002 and 2003 during the SARS epidemic, which the government covered up for months.
‘The current fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Communist Party Central Committee meeting Friday, according to state media.
‘In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies exposed by the epidemic, (the government) should work to strengthen areas of weakness and close up loopholes,’ Xi said.
China has imposed unprecedented measures in a sweeping campaign to contain the virus. Cities in Hubei with a combined population of more than 60million have been placed under lockdown, with outbound transportation halted and virtually all public activities suspended.
People returning to Beijing will now have to isolate themselves either at home or in a concentrated area for medical observation, said a notice from the Chinese capital’s prevention and control work group published by state media late Friday.
The notice warns there will be legal consequences for those who don’t comply with the 14-day quarantine. It did not elaborate on how the isolation will be enforced. While Beijing returnees were previously ordered to ‘self-quarantine’ for two weeks, that measure allowed for occasional outings and implementation varied across neighbourhoods.
The measures are intended to ‘secure the public’s safety and health when using cash’, Fan said. Pictured are two buses leaving the port where a cruise ship and its passengers are under quarantine near Tokyo
Chinese officials have warned that Covid-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday.
To accommodate the high number of confirmed and suspected cases, Hubei has constructed makeshift hospitals and reappropriated other public facilities to house patients. At a press briefing in Wuhan on Saturday, the newly appointed head of Hubei’s provincial health commission, Wang Hesheng, said they aimed to ensure that zero patients went without treatment.
Last month, members of the Chinese public were outraged when residents of the virus epicentre, Wuhan, shared videos online showing overcrowded hospitals and people being turned away.
Some wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo platform that their family members were exhibiting symptoms, but they couldn’t get tested because hospitals were at capacity.
More than half of the confirmed cases in Hubei have been treated using traditional Chinese medicine, Wang said.
The virus has taken an economic toll, as many countries have placed travel restrictions on recent visitors to China and airlines have suspended China routes due to low demand.
Chinese officials have warned that Covid-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday. Pictured are workers disinfecting chairs in North Korea
Alibaba, the first major Chinese company to report quarterly earnings since the emergence of the coronavirus, said Thursday that the outbreak ‘is having significant impact on China’s economy … potentially affecting the global economy.’
The overall revenue growth rate at Alibaba will be negatively affected in the quarter ending this March, said Alibaba CEO Daniel Yong Zhang.
Liang Tao, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said at a Saturday briefing that Chinese banks have provided more than 537 billion yuan ($76.9 billion) in credit support to industries such as retail, catering and tourism that have been most severely affected by the outbreak.
Earlier this week, the government reported that consumer inflation spiked to an eight-year high of 5.4 per cent in January over a year earlier, driven by a 4.4 per cent rise in food costs. But Fan Yifei, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China, said he believes ‘large-scale inflation will never happen’ in the country.
Medical workers in Beijing are seen transporting supplies while wearing face masks
A team of experts led by the World Health Organization is slated to begin their mission in China alongside Chinese counterparts this weekend.
‘Particular attention will be paid to understanding the transmission of the virus, the severity of the disease and the impact of ongoing response measures,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
The US government was preparing to fly home Americans from aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that’s been quarantined at Yokohama in Japan, Wall Street Journal reported.
About 380 Americans and their families will be offered seats on two State Department flights, Henry Walke, director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the paper. They are arriving in the U.S. as early as Sunday, he said, adding that those with a fever, cough or other symptoms won’t be allowed on the flights.
So far, 218 people from the ship have tested positive for the virus. Japan’s Health Ministry allowed 11 passengers to disembark Friday, saying that those above 80 years of age, with underlying medical conditions as well as those staying in windowless cabins during the 14-day quarantine can stay at a designated facility on shore.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?
Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
More than 1,380 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 64,400 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent similar to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has so far killed 1,383 people out of a total of at least 64,441 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to that date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed, but also far more widespread.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
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