Hong Kong Restricts Travel from Mainland China as Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches Over 100
The coronavirus is further impacting domestic travel in China.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press conference that the region’s government would stop issuing permits for individual travelers from the Chinese mainland, according to CNN.
The outlet also reports that 106 people have died from the virus, all within China’s mainland — up from 80 on Monday — while the total known cases of the virus is topping out at more than 4,500 in China alone. Officials in Hong Kong declared a state of emergency as a result of the virus, with almost 60 million people in Chinese cities on lockdown.
CNN points out that the 4,500 number of confirmed cases is around a 65 percent increase (70 of which are international) since Monday, when Good Morning America reported China’s total diagnosed cases as more than 2,800. As of Tuesday, coronavirus cases have been reported in France, Germany, Japan and Australia, among others, including five instances in the U.S.
In a Tuesday morning report from Today, Beijing correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer said, “In a matter of hours, more than 200 Americans will be airlifted out of Wuhan. This is the epicenter of the virus, which has been locked down for nearly a week. People getting on that flight will be tested for symptoms, and when they land in the U.S., they’ll be quarantined for 14 days. But there are still hundreds of Americas stuck in Wuhan, and for them, there’s no way out.”
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Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a blanket term for several respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Symptoms typically include fever, cough, trouble breathing, headache and sore throat — similar to the flu. For people who have severe cases, it can turn into pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death, according to the World Health Organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed three new cases of coronavirus in the U.S. on Sunday, bringing the total to five. The CDC said in a release the patients “recently returned to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019.”
The three new cases were from patients in Maricopa County, Arizona; Los Angeles County, California; and Orange County, California (a man in his 50s), CNN reported. The previously confirmed cases were of a man in his 30s in Everett, Washington, and a woman in her 60s in Chicago. NBC News revealed that all five patients were being held at hospitals in isolation.
RELATED VIDEO: Shanghai Disneyland, Parts of the Great Wall of China Shut Down amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Just four days ago, on Friday, 26 people in China were confirmed to have died from coronavirus, while 830 people had been infected, officials said. Chinese officials were also effectively quarantining 35 million citizens in Wuhan and neighboring areas. They had shut down railroads and roadways and grounded all flights in or out of Wuhan.
Cities across China also canceled fireworks and festivals surrounding the Chinese Lunar New Year over the weekend, and major tourist attractions such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland were closing.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we are still in the early days of the investigation — both domestically and abroad. CDC continues to monitor the international situation with our teams on the ground in affected countries, as well as domestically in the four states with confirmed cases,” the CDC wrote in a Sunday release, explaining that the chance of “more cases reported in the U.S.,” “including person-to-person spread,” is “likely.”
“This is a very serious public health situation,” the CDC said on Sunday. “We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Americans. Outbreaks of new diseases are always of concern — and in today’s connected world, an outbreak anywhere can be a risk everywhere. Risk is dependent on exposure.”
“Someone who is in close contact with a person who is infected with 2019-nCoV will be at greater risk of infection and should take the precautions outlined in CDC’s guidance for preventing spread in homes and communities,” the group added. “While this is a serious public health threat, CDC continues to believe the immediate risk to the U.S. general public is low at this time.”
Today reported on Tuesday morning that over 100 people in the U.S. “are being monitored for potential cases” of the virus. As of Sunday, 100 samples from over half the states in the U.S. had been sent for testing to the CDC, NBC News reported. While 70 samples were still pending Monday, 25 had tested negative while five tested positive.