China's isolation grows as the number of viruses reaches 259
BEIJING: China faced a deepening epidemic on Saturday when the death toll rose to 259, with the United States leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans.
With Britain, Russia and Sweden among the countries that confirmed their first infections, the virus has now spread to more than two dozen nations, sending governments to limit their exposure.
The United States tightened its stance on Friday by declaring a national emergency, temporarily prohibiting entry to foreigners who had been in China in the last two weeks.
Foreign citizens, who are not immediate relatives of US citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled to China in the last 14 days will be denied entry to the United States by this time, said Health Secretary Alex Azar.
That follows similar steps from countries like Italy, Singapore and the northern neighbor of China, Mongolia.
The United States, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations had already advised their citizens not to travel to China.
Beijing, which insists that it can contain the virus, began to show impatience for the growing ostracism, and the former Foreign Ministry called Washington's previous advice against travel to China unpleasant.
It is certainly not a gesture of goodwill, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
The US emergency declaration UU. It also requires that Americans who return from the Chinese province of Hubei, zone zero, be placed in mandatory 14-day quarantine and health checks are conducted for US citizens who come from other parts of China.
The virus emerged in early December and dates back to a market in the capital of Hubei, Wuhan, which sold wild animals.
He then jumped to humans and spread throughout the world on the wings of a lunar New Year holiday avalanche that sees hundreds of millions of Chinese traveling nationally and abroad.
With public anger rising in China, the top Wuhan official admitted Friday night that the authorities there had acted too slowly.
If strict control measures had been taken before, the result would have been better than now, Ma Guoqiang, head of the Wuhan Communist Party, told state media.
Ma said he was in a state of guilt, remorse and self-reproach.
Wuhan officials have been criticized online for retaining information about the outbreak until the end of December despite knowing it weeks before.
China finally went into action more than a week ago, quarantining entire cities in Hubei and tens of millions of people.
The rest of the country has essentially put itself on a war footing.
The unprecedented safeguards imposed throughout the country include extending vacations, postponing school restarts and strict health checks for travelers across the country.
But the figure continues to increase at an increasing rate, and health officials said Saturday that 46 more people had died in the last 24 hours, all but one in Hubei.
Another 2,102 new infections were also confirmed, bringing the total to almost 12,000, much more than the 2002-03 outbreak.
SARS, which is similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people worldwide, mostly in China or Hong Kong.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday, but did not advise international trade or travel restrictions.
He warned Friday that closing the borders was probably not effective in stopping transmission and could accelerate the spread of the virus.
But authorities around the world went ahead with preventive measures.
Citing a likely more acute increase in infections, Singapore on Friday banned arrivals and passengers in transit from mainland China.
Mongolia hardened the previous restrictions on Saturday by implementing a ban on any arrival from its southern neighbor until March 2.
The impoverished Papua New Guinea banned all visitors to Asian ports last week.
In addition to concerns about fighting contagion, Thai health officials said Friday that a taxi driver became the first case of person-to-person transmission in the kingdom.
Thailand joins China, Germany, Japan, France and the United States with confirmed domestic infections.
The health crisis has affected China's international image, placing Chinese citizens in difficult positions abroad, amid complaints of racism.
In a surprising example, more than 40,000 workers in a vast industrial park controlled by China in Indonesia, which also employs 5,000 Chinese employees, were quarantined, the facility said Friday.
No one can enter or leave without permission, said Pt Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park on Sulawesi Island.
World markets fell again on Friday due to uncertainty about the world's second largest economy, a key driver of global growth.
A growing number of major airlines have suspended or reduced flights to China, while corporate names ranging from Toyota to McDonald's and Starbucks have closed Chinese stores or production lines.
Countries have rushed to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, with hundreds of U.S., Japanese, British, French, South Korean and Indian citizens evacuated so far, and more countries planning air flights.
Russia said it would evacuate more than 2,500 of its citizens on vacation on the Chinese island of Hainan, away from the epicenter.