Tag Archives: Wuhan

COVID-19: WHO team visits Wuhan market

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The experts did not take any questions and the sprawling market remains boarded up.

A team of WHO experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 visited a market in Wuhan on Sunday where one of the first reported clusters of infections emerged over a year ago.

Members of the group arrived at Huanan seafood market — which has been sealed since January last year — driving into its barricaded premises as guards quickly blocked others from entering, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

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The mission, delayed by China and weighed down by political baggage, has a remit to explore how the virus jumped from animal to human.

But with the fieldwork element of a trip in its early stages, World Health Organization officials have already downplayed expectations of finding the source of a virus which has killed more than two million people and devastated the global economy.

On Sunday, the WHO team arrived at the Huanan market as part of a long-planned trip now closely monitored by the Chinese authorities.

Security staff told reporters outside to leave and shook a tall ladder on which a photographer was sitting for a better view.

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Earlier this week, state media outlet Global Times published a report downplaying the importance of Huanan as an early epicenter of the virus, claiming “subsequent investigations” have suggested the market was not the source of the outbreak.

Chinese authorities have relentlessly pushed a positive narrative of heroism and decisive, swift action in their fight against the coronavirus that has spurred an economic recovery and kept deaths down to 4,636.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: WHO team arrives Wuhan

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Beijing is anxious to stamp out local clusters ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year festival when hundreds of millions of people will be on the move across the country.

A team of experts from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan Thursday to probe the origins of the coronavirus more than a year after it emerged, although two members were barred from boarding a flight in Singapore after testing positive for virus antibodies.

The international team of 13 scientists landed for their much-delayed mission, met by Chinese officials in hazmat suits and given throat swabs on arrival, and were whisked to a hotel where they must complete a two-week quarantine before starting their work.

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The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has since billowed out across the world killing nearly two million people so far, infecting tens of millions and eviscerating the global economy.

The WHO says establishing the pathway of the virus from animals to humans is essential to preventing future outbreaks.

But despite painstaking months of negotiations over their remit, the team was blocked from arriving last week — a sign of the political sensitivity of a virus origin story muddied by recrimination between nations, conjecture and denials.

And the UN health body said Thursday that while most the team had arrived, two members were not allowed to board the flight from Singapore to Wuhan after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies — the latest twist in a long journey to China for the experts.

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The WHO said in a tweet that all members of the team had “multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 in their home countries prior to traveling.”

The trip comes as China moves to snuff out fresh clusters of the virus.

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More than 20 million people are under lockdown in the north of China and one province has declared an emergency, as the country reported its first death from Covid-19 in eight months.

China had largely brought the pandemic under control through strict lockdowns and mass testing, hailing its economic rebound as an indication of strong leadership by the Communist authorities.

But another 138 infections were reported by the National Health Commission on Thursday — the highest single-day tally since March last year.

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Clusters are still small compared with many countries contending with rampant infections and record numbers of deaths.

But the first Chinese virus fatality in several months — a woman with underlying conditions in northern Hebei province — seeded alarm across China.

The hashtag “New virus death in Hebei” quickly ratcheted up 270 million views on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Thursday.

“I haven’t seen the words ‘virus death’ in so long, it’s a bit shocking! I hope the epidemic can pass soon,” one user wrote.

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The last death reported in mainland China was in May last year, with the official death toll now standing at 4,635.

As infections have spread, northeastern Heilongjiang declared an “emergency state” on Wednesday, telling its 37.5 million residents not to leave the province unless absolutely necessary.

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WHO arrival
China is braced for the scrutiny the expert team of WHO scientists will bring to its virus narrative.

Beijing has drip-fed the idea that the pandemic started outside of its borders, preferring to focus on its relatively swift control of the public health crisis.

The WHO has been at pains to cut the political baggage attached to their mission.

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Peter Ben Embarek, team lead, said the group would start with a mandatory hotel quarantine.

“And then after the two weeks, we would be able to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we will want to visit,” he said.

He warned it “could be a very long journey before we get a full understanding of what happened”.

Beijing has argued that although Wuhan is where the first cluster of cases was detected, it is not necessarily where the virus originated.

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“I don’t think we will have clear answers after this initial mission, but we will be on the way,” Embarek added.

“The idea is to advance a number of studies that were already designed and decided upon some months ago to get us a better understanding of what happened,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

[China] Wuhan record first COVID-19 case in month

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China on Sunday reported the first case of coronavirus in over a month in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first started in December last year.

China’s National Health Commission also reported the first double-digit increase in countrywide cases in nearly 10 days, saying 14 new infections had been confirmed.

Two of the cases were imported into the country from overseas, the commission said.

The virus first emerged in Wuhan, a major industrial and transport city in central China, in December.

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It has since infected nearly four million people worldwide — claiming more than 270,000 lives — and crippled the global economy.

The total number infected in China is 82,901, with an official death toll of 4,633.

No new deaths have been reported for nearly a month.

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China’s ruling Communist Party imposed a quarantine lockdown on tens of millions of people — first in Wuhan and then the rest of Hubei province — beginning January 23, making Wuhan the first place in the world subjected to draconian restrictions.

Authorities started lifting restrictions in late March.

China has faced criticism both at home and abroad for downplaying the virus and concealing information about the outbreak when it first emerged in Wuhan.

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Beijing has insisted it has always shared information with the World Health Organization and other countries in a timely manner.

A top health official said Saturday, however, that the outbreak exposed “shortcomings” in China’s public healthcare system.


#Newsworthy…

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No proof from United States on claims COVID-19 came from Wuhan lab – WHO

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The World Health Organization said Monday that Washington had provided no evidence to support “speculative” claims by the US president that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab.

“We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus — so from our perspective, this remains speculative,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual briefing.

Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

Top US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO’s statement in an interview published Monday evening by National Geographic.

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, (the scientific evidence) is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci told the magazine.

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“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that (this virus) evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he said.

US President Donald Trump, increasingly critical of China’s management of the outbreak, claims to have proof it started in a Wuhan laboratory.

And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said “enormous evidence” backed up that claim, although the US intelligence community last week said it would continue to study whether the outbreak stemmed from infected animal contact, or a lab accident.

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China has vehemently denied suggestions the lab was the source.

“Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus,” Ryan said, stressing that this was “a very important piece of public health information for future control.

“If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for the WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that regard,” he added.

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– Science at the centre –


The UN health agency — which has also faced scathing criticism from Trump over accusations it initially downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak to shield China — has repeatedly said the virus clearly appears to have originated naturally from an animal source.

WHO expert Maria Van Kerkhove stressed during Monday’s briefing that there were some 15,000 full genome sequences of the novel coronavirus available, and “from all of the evidence that we have seen… this virus is of natural origin.”

While coronaviruses generally originate in bats, both Van Kerkhove and Ryan stressed the importance of discovering how the virus that causes COVID-19 crossed over to humans, and what animal served as an “intermediary host” along the way.

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“We need to understand more about that natural origin, and particularly about intermediate hosts,” Ryan said.

It was important to know “so that we can put in place the right public health and animal-human interface policies that will prevent this happening again,” he stressed.

The WHO said last week it wanted to be invited to take part in Chinese investigations into the animal origins of the pandemic, which in a matter of months has killed more than 250,000 people worldwide.

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“We have offered, as we do with every case in every country, assistance with carrying out those investigations,” Ryan said Monday.

“We can learn from Chinese scientists,” he said.

But he warned that if questions about the virus’s origin were “projected as aggressive investigation of wrongdoing, then I believe that’s much more difficult to deal with. That is a political issue.

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“Science needs to be at the centre,” he said.

“If we have a science-based investigation and a science-based enquiry as to what the origin species and the intermediate species are, then that will benefit everybody on the planet.”


#Newsworthy…

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[China] Beijing tightens grip over COVID-19 research.


China has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus, according to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, that have since been removed from the web.

Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication.

Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials, according to the now-deleted posts.

A medical expert in Hong Kong who collaborated with mainland researchers to publish a clinical analysis of Covid-19 cases in an international medical journal said his work did not undergo such vetting in February.

The increased scrutiny appears to be the latest effort by the Chinese government to control the narrative on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives and sickened 1.7 million people worldwide since it first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Since late January, Chinese researchers have published a series of Covid-19 studies in influential international medical journals. Some findings about early coronavirus cases — such as when human-to-human transition first appeared — have raised questions over the official government account of the outbreak and sparked controversy on Chinese social media.

And now, Chinese authorities appear to be tightening their grip on the publication of Covid-19 research.

A Chinese researcher who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation said the move was a worrying development that would likely obstruct important scientific research.

“I think it is a coordinated effort from (the) Chinese government to control (the) narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China,” the researcher said.

“And I don’t think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease.”


Media has reached out to China’s Foreign Ministry for comment.


Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects scientific research on the coronavirus during his visit to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing on March 2.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects scientific research on the coronavirus during his visit to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing on March 2.


Increased scrutiny


According to the directive issued by the Ministry of Education’s science and technology department, “academic papers about tracing the origin of the virus must be strictly and tightly managed.”

The directive lays out layers of approval for these papers, starting with the academic committees at universities.

They are then required to be sent to the Education Ministry’s science and technology department, which then forwards the papers to a task force under the State Council for vetting. Only after the universities hear back from the task force can the papers be submitted to journals.

Other papers on Covid-19 will be vetted by universities’ academic committees, based on conditions such as the “academic value” of the study, and whether the “timing for publishing” is right.

The directive is based on instructions issued during a March 25 meeting held by the State Council’s task force on the prevention and control of Covid-19, it said.

The document was first posted Friday morning on the website of the Fudan University in Shanghai, one of China’s leading universities.

A staff member of the Education ministry’s science and technology department confirmed they had issued the directive.

“It is not supposed to be made public — it is an internal document,” said the person, who refused to reveal his name.

A few hours later, the Fudan University page was taken down.

The China University of Geoscience in Wuhan also posted a similar notice about the extra vetting on Covid-19 papers on its website. The page has since been deleted, but a cached version of it remains accessible.

The Chinese researcher who spoke said the notice was issued a few days ago, adding that only Covid-19 research was subject to the additional checks.

David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he did not encounter any additional vetting when he and a team of mainland Chinese researchers published a clinical analysis of Covid-19 cases in the New England Journal of Medicine in February.

“The process was really simple then,” he said over the phone.

Hui said he was still revising the draft of the paper until 3 a.m. on the day it was due for submission, and the paper was sent to the NEJM by midday.

“There was completely no restriction at all,” he said.

“I don’t know if it is because some researchers published something that is considered sensitive domestically in China.

(I’m) not sure if it is because of the controversy about the origin of the virus later, and the non-sensitive stuff becomes sensitive too.”

Laboratory technicians test samples of the coronavirus at a lab in Hengyang in China’s central Henan province.

Laboratory technicians test samples of the coronavirus at a lab in Hengyang in China’s central Henan province.


Origin of the virus


In late December, Wuhan reported the first cases of the coronavirus, linked by authorities to a seafood market in the city.

Scientists in China and the West have said the virus is likely to have originated in bats and jumped to humans from an intermediate host — just like its cousin that caused the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003.

However, parts of Chinese social media and even the country’s government appear to have launched a concerted campaign to question the origin of the virus.

Chinese officials and state media have repeatedly stressed that there has been no conclusion on the exact origin of the virus.

Last month, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, promoted a conspiracy on Twitter that the virus had originated in the US and was brought to China by the US military.

Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said the origin of the coronavirus has become a politically sensitive topic in China.

“It is no surprise that the government seeks to control related scientific research so that the findings do not challenge its own narrative on the origin of the virus and the government response to the crisis,” Professor Huang said.

“The danger is that when scientific research is subject to the needs of those in power, it further undermines the credibility of the government narrative, making accusations of underreporting and misinformation more convincing.”

In China, research papers on the coronavirus are already subjected to layers of vetting after they are submitted to Chinese academic journals, according to an editor at a Chinese medical journal.

Wang Lan, the editorial director of the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, said all Covid-19 papers have to go through an approval process for “major topics” after being submitted to her journal.

“It has always been the case,” she said.

“They have to be approved by three levels of organizations. It’s a long process.”

The Chinese researcher who requested anonymity said under the new restrictions, however, coronavirus research that contradicted the official narrative could be suppressed by Beijing.

“I think the importance is that the international scientific community must realize that any journal or manuscripts from (a) Chinese research institution has kind of been double-checked by the government,” said the researcher.

“It is important for them to know there are extra steps between independent scientific research and final publication.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Case returns to China.

79 new cases in China – NHS

1 case in wuhan


Mainland China saw a doubling in new coronavirus cases, including one in the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic started late in 2019.

Infected travellers arriving from abroad caused the jump in cases.


And for the first time in days, locally transmitted cases crept into the daily tally. .

China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, a two-fold increase from a day earlier.


Of the new cases, 74 were imported infections, up from 39 a day earlier.

Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and epicentre of the outbreak in China, reported one new case, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, following five days of no new infections.

Other parts of the country reported local infections.


#Newsworthy…

Hantavirus: Nigerians react to another virus kill man in China.

despite the multi killing of coronavirus.

Hantavirus comes up, kill 1 in China


A man from China’s Yunnan Province has died of Hantavirus, a new virus, while on his way to Shandong Province for work on a charter bus on Monday. NobleReporters

He tested positive for the virus, while 32 other people on the bus were also tested according to reports.


Hantavirus is currently trending on social media, following the death.

Ortho-hantavirus is a single-stranded, enveloped, negative-sense RNA virus in the family Hantaviridae of the order Bunyavirales.


These viruses normally infect rodents, but do not cause disease in them.

Humans may become infected with hantaviruses through contact with rodent urine, saliva, or feces.


The Coronavirus currently ravaging the world first emanated from Wuhan Province in China, and has since spread to 197 countries.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: China govt feud after U.S calls coronavirus ‘Chinese Virus’.

says, US military may have brought the pandemic to Wuhan


A spat between the US and China over the novel coronavirus escalated on Tuesday as President Donald Trump angered Beijing by referring to the pathogen as the “Chinese Virus.”

The two countries have sparred over the origin of the virus for days, with a Chinese official promoting conspiracy theories claiming it was brought to China by the US army and American officials using terms seen as stigmatising a nation.


“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus,” Trump tweeted Monday night.

He doubled down on the comment on Tuesday morning while Tweeting about how US states were being affected, saying: “Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all.”


Trump’s allies had previously referred to the pandemic as the “Chinese coronavirus”, but Beijing said on Tuesday it was “strongly indignant” over the phrase, which it called “a kind of stigmatisation”.

The United States should “immediately stop its unjustified accusations against China,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.


A commentary by the official Xinhua news agency said using “racist and xenophobic names to cast blame for the outbreak on other countries can only reveal politicians’ irresponsibility and incompetence which will intensify virus fears”.

The war of words reignited diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which have tussled over trade and other disputes since Trump took office.


Trump’s comments were also criticised inside the US, with warnings it could incite a backlash against the Asian-American community.

“Our Asian-American communities — people YOU serve — are already suffering. They don’t need you fueling more bigotry,” tweeted New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, whose state is one of the hardest-hit by the virus in the US.


The World Health Organization said more cases and deaths had been reported in the rest of the world than in China.

The new coronavirus virus was first detected late last year, with China’s own health officials initially saying its source was a live animal market in the central city of Wuhan, whose government had initially tried to cover up the outbreak.


But China has sought to distance itself from the virus, saying the origin is still unknown, while seeking global goodwill by offering aid to countries facing serious outbreaks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a phone call he initiated with top Chinese official Yang Jiechi, voiced anger that Beijing has used official channels “to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States”, the State Department said.


Pompeo “stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumours, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat”, the department added.

The State Department on Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to denounce Beijing’s promotion of a conspiracy theory that had gained wide attention on social media.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested on Twitter last week that “patient zero” in the global pandemic may have come from the United States.

“It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation,” tweeted Zhao, who is known for his provocative statements on social media.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Hospital director in china dies


A hospital director in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, died from the disease on Monday, state media reported on Tuesday.


Liu Zhiming, Director of Wuchang Hospital, died from infection with the new coronavirus, which has so far spread to more than 72,000 people across China, the state-owned newswire China News Service said on microblogging site Weibo.

His death comes as more medical personnel on the front lines of China’s battle against Covid-19 are falling ill with the disease.


China reported last week that more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected, and at least six have died.

A total of 72,436 infections and 1,868 deaths have so far been reported across the country, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.


In the previous 24 hours, medical authorities counted 1,886 new cases and 98 deaths.

Both the number of new infections and deaths dropped slightly from the past few days.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday the number of new coronavirus infections in China appeared to be declining, though it was too early to tell if the reported decline would continue.

China’s renowned epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said he expected the outbreak to peak by middle-to-late February, later than initially estimated, according to Southern Metropolis Daily.


Zhong said he expected the situation to be “stable” by the end of April.

Cities continued to tighten their restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.

Beijing on Monday cordoned off its hutongs, traditional alleyways in the centre of the city, with community
members restricting non-residents’ access.

The Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, which was supposed to take place from April 21 to April 30, has been postponed due to the outbreak, the organisers said in a statement.


#Newsworthy ..

Coronavirus: 10 people tested positive in Alameda


Fewer than 10 people are being tested for the deadly coronavirus in Alameda County, according to health officials.

The Alameda County Health Department told FOX40 sister station KRON4 there are no confirmed cases at this time.


Health officials are not releasing an exact number of how many patients are being tested but said the number is less than 10.

Officials say the patients have either traveled to Wuhan, China within the past 14 days or have been in contact with someone who has been exposed to the virus.


The patients have also had a high fever and a cough, officials said.

The health department stressed that this does not mean they have the virus or will get the virus.


The patients’ lab work is being sent to the CDC in Atlanta for further testing.

Hundreds of people infected with the new virus have fallen ill in China and 25 have died as of Thursday,


The first cases appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub in central China.

The first case of the coronavirus in the United States was reported in Washington state. The U.S. citizen had returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to Wuhan, according to the CDC.


Earlier this week, several major U.S. airports, including San Francisco International Airport, had begun screening airline passengers arriving from central China for the virus.

Chinese authorities Thursday moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus.


#Newsworthy…