Self-isolate or face punishment, Beijing tells returning travellers

Chinese state media have reported that everyone returning to Beijing must self-isolate for two weeks to protect against Coronavirus, otherwise they will face punishment. In an interview with the Beijing Daily, the city authorities warned those who will refuse quarantine, but did not specify the potential punishment. 

It is estimated that about 500 million people are on lockdown across China in an attempt to stop further spreading of the deadly virus.  Anyone returning to Beijing will have to submit travel plans to their community in advance, a notice from the Chinese capital’s virus prevention working group reads. “From now on, all those who have returned to Beijing should stay at home, or submit to group observation for 14 days after arriving”. It went on to state, “those who refuse to accept home or centralised observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under law”. 

The virus’ death toll has now reached 1,873, with the latest victim being Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the deadly outbreak. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is now investigating the outbreak, intending to focus on how severe the new Coronavirus is and how it is spreading. An estimated 500 million people are being affected by movement and travel restrictions in China, with Beijing and Shanghai, amongst other cities, imposing lockdowns in an attempt to prevent further spreading of the COVID-19 virus. The two cities’ streets remain largely deserted, with many shops and restaurants closed. 

The most severe lockdown is in Wuhan. All public transport has been shut down with what has been defined by Vice Premier Sun Chunlan as ‘wartime conditions’. Infections are estimated to be doubling every four days, and Wuhan has seen the implementation of house-to-house temperature checks, and mass confinement in quarantine centres. An article by the New York Times has described the centres as, “makeshift… with minimal medical care”. There is reportedly, “a growing sense of abandonment and fear [which] has taken hold in Wuhan, fueling the sense that the city and surrounding province of Hubei are being sacrificed for the greater good of China”. The Chinese government now faces an uphill battle in the attempt to halt further spreading of the deadly virus. The world’s most populous, and second-largest economy, is struggling to cope with the epidemic as the virus has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system. However, this is no longer merely a national problem, as the first death in Europe and outside of Asia was reported in France last week: an 80-year-old Chinese man that passed away in hospital in Paris on January 25th. Infections are also rising globally, with nine people in England testing positive for the virus. The World Health Organisation is now attempting to understand the virus further, with the international stage now rallying together to halt the epidemic. Fears are rising of further outbreaks and the world now holds its breath to anxiously wait for an answer. 

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William Warnes

Global Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21

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