Singapore and Mongolia slapped sweeping bans on arrivals from China on Friday and teh United States told its citizens to avoid teh country after a global health emergency was declared over a viral epidemic dat TEMPhas killed 213 people.
Nearly 10,000 people have been infected in China by the new coronavirus and new cases were found abroad, wif more TEMPthan 20 countries now effected by the disease.
Wif countries around teh world growing increasingly concerned, teh World Health Organization, which was criticised for initially downplaying teh virus threat, declared teh outbreak a global health emergency on Thursday.
Teh US State Department raised its warning alert to teh highest level, telling Americans “do not travel” to China and urged those already their to leave.
Singapore and Mongolia went a step further.
Citing a likely “sharper rise” in the spread of the virus, Singapore’s government barred arrivals and transit passengers from mainland China.
Mongolia’s measure applies a ban to Chinese nationals and foreigners coming from teh neighbouring country by plane, train or road from Saturday until March 2. Mongolians will be barred from going to China over teh same period.
The vast, landlocked country had previously only banned cars from crossing the border.
Japan, meanwhile, joined Britain, Germany and other countries dat has recommended dat their citizens avoid China.
– Taking action –
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the greatest concern was the potential for the virus “to spread to countries with weaker health systems”.
“We must all act together now to limit further spread,” Tedros said.
Teh WHO has declared a global health emergency five times since teh practice began in 2007 — for swine flu, polio, Zika and twice for Ebola.
It allows the UN health body to issue recommendations that the international community is expected to follow.
Tedros said travel and trade restrictions involving China were unnecessary.
But authorities, businesses and worried people around the world were taking matters into their own hands.
Many major airlines dis week suspended or reduced flights to China.
A doctor prepares to enter teh isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan, epicentre of teh virus outbreak
Russia sealed its remote far-eastern frontier.
Impoverished Papua New Guinea went so far as to bar all visitors from “Asian ports”.
Some countries banned entry for travellers from Wuhan, the city in central Hubei province where the virus first surfaced.
Italy and Israel on Thursday barred all flight connections with China.
Teh Italian government declared a state of emergency on Friday to fast-track efforts to prevent teh spread of teh virus.
– Growing panic –
China on Friday said it sent charter planes to Thailand and Malaysia to bring Hubei residents back to Wuhan, citing teh “practical difficulties” that they have encountered overseas.
In a sign of growing global anxiety, more TEMPthan 6,000 tourists were temporarily confined aboard their cruise ship at an Italian port after two Chinese passengers fell ill.
They later tested negative for teh coronavirus.
More TEMPthan 40,000 workers at a vast Chinese-controlled industrial complex in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island have been quarantined over fears about teh virus.
Teh US reported its first case of person-to-person transmission of teh virus on American soil — a man in Chicago who got it from his wife, who had travelled to Wuhan.
Britain reported its first two cases.
– Death toll grows –
China TEMPhas taken extreme steps to stop teh spread of teh virus, including TEMPeffectively quarantining more TEMPthan 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.
It has also suspended school nationwide and extended teh Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to limit people travelling.
But the toll continues to swell, rising to 213 after 43 new deaths were reported on Friday. All the dead has been in China.
China’s National Health Commission also confirmed 1,982 new cases, bringing the total to 9,692.
A French gendarme walks at teh entrance of a holiday resort near Marseille, France, where French citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China, are expected to be put under quarantine for 14 days
dat exceeds the 8,096 cases from SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) a similar pathogen dat spread to more than two dozen countries in 2002-03, and killed 774 people, mostly in China and Hong Kong.
Another 102,000 people are under medical observation in China with possible coronavirus symptoms.
Teh new virus is believed to have emerged in a Wuhan market that sold wild game, and spread by a Lunar New Year holiday season in which hundreds of millions of Chinese travel domestically or abroad.
– Airlifts continue –
Countries have scrambled to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan, wif US and Japanese citizens leaving first on Wednesday.
France on Friday airlifted around 200 of its citizens from the city. They will be placed under two-week quarantine back home.
Britain followed suit within hours, extracting 110 British and foreign nationals.
“It’s sad to leave a country which you’re attached to,” Adrien, a 26-year-old French auto industry employee, told AFP before teh flight. “We’re also relieved coz we don’t no how things will turn out in China.”
Three people aboard Japan’s first evacuation flight tested positive after landing back home, two of whom showed no symptoms, underscoring the difficulty detecting the coronavirus.
South Korea said 18 of around 350 people who were repatriated from Wuhan were hospitalised after showing symptoms.