The people ofWuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus is thought to have originated, know better than most about living under the spectre of Covid-19. As the city of 11 million people begins to ease lockdown measures, Reuters have compiled a snapshot of residents’ experiences and advice:
MU ZI, TAXI DRIVER
In the beginning, I was quite scared because my job involves meeting lots of people, so I went home and quarantined myself. After the government measures to control the epidemic started to work in February, I became more relaxed and in a better mood. And since my housing compound has had no cases, they’ve started allowing us to go out.
The situation overseas, especially in Italy, really makes my heart ache. I hope that overseas coronavirus patients will be able to overcome this.”
DING FAN, 27, EMPLOYEE
In the beginning I was pretty scared, because the week after the lockdown was when the infections in Wuhan peaked, and the numbers published every day made me very sad.
I wasn’t used to being at home and I would feel very anxious because everyone was very nervous; you’d open the windows to look outside and it would be completely empty, you wouldn’t even see a shadow. It felt very miserable and not like my home, a city usually bustling with life.
We live in the same world, and we need to work hard together to defeat this illness. Everyone should go out less, stay at home to read books, watch television and play games with the family.”
ZHANG JIANJUN, 33, WORKS IN PROPERTY PLANNING
You have to stay hopeful, limit contact with others, reduce visits to crowded places. These are the only way you can protect yourself and your family.”
HU YONG, 40, DISINFECTANT SPRAYER
I’ve been working as a volunteer and recently joined a disinfectant company to spray shops and streets. This epidemic has made me feel that we Chinese are really strong.
As someone who has lived through this, I would like to tell everyone don’t panic, you have to adjust your state of mind. Secondly make sure you take precautions, like washing your hands, ensuring good ventilation and exercising regularly.”
GENG YI, HOTEL STAFF
I have seen how medical workers have helped Wuhan. We are very grateful. Now that it feels like we’re close to victory, I would like to tell the world’s citizens ‘add oil’, keep going! Let’s work hard together and I’m sure everyone will beat this.”
YUAN YANZHONG, 59, RETIREE
I am a Wuhan native. Since the city’s lockdown, I haven’t left the house. In the beginning, I was quite panicked, because this epidemic is very severe.
I had stocked up on some essential goods before the Lunar New Year holiday, later my neighbourhood set up a group-buying chat group so we could buy food that would be delivered in bulk. Life wasn’t easy but staying at home was more safe.
Based on the Wuhan experience, a good way to beat this is to stay at home, don’t go out, limit contact, bore this virus to death by staying at home. This is the best solution.”
YANG YUANFANG, 39, COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER WORKER
My aunt was diagnosed as having the virus on Jan. 22 and then slowly her family got infected. At the time they received a lot of help from the community.
I chose to volunteer because I found it very difficult to just stay on the sidelines. The situation made me very emotional. Wuhan is my home. This virus is very scary. To fight it we need to keep a positive attitude and be united.”
QIU XIAOYING, 72, SHOPOWNER
We basically didn’t go out and didn’t visit other people’s houses. Everything stopped. We didn’t even visit our relatives or have meals together during the Lunar New Year holiday.
If we in China can overcome this epidemic, other countries can definitely triumph over their difficulties. You have to rely on your willpower, figure out ways to make it retreat, learn from China to have a responsible attitude, don’t take the virus lightly and don’t go out on the streets without masks.”
Emmanuel Macron has saidFrancewill invest €4billion in “strategic” health products including masks and respirators, with the aim of making the country “fully and completely self-sufficient” by the end of this year.
“Our priority today is to start producing from now on in France,” Macron said during a visit to a factory producing masks near Angers in the Maine-et-Loire region on Tuesday.
We have to produce in France, on our territory, from now on. Certain products and certain materials have a strategic importance and we need Europe to be independent (in their production) to reduce our dependence.
“The day after (the coronavirus) will not be like the day before; we must rebuild out national and European sovereignty,” Macron added.
Macron and his centrist government have been criticised for not anticipating the crisis and acting sooner to begin production of mask – instead buying them in from China – and his remarks brought a chorus or responses from opposition parties.
“Aaahhh, he’s beginning to understand. Let’s relocate the production lines! A bit more effort!”, tweeted Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the hard-left La France Insoumise (Unbowed France – LFI).
Manuel Bompard, a Euro-MP for LFI, added: “Right up until its closure two years ago the Sperian firm at Plaintel could produce almost a million masks a day. The company was bought out by the US firm Honeywell then moved offshore. The machines were destroyed. Macron and Le Maire (economy minister) were warned at the time, but did nothing.”
Weekly mask production is being ramped up from 3.3million to 15million but French officials admit more are needed.
A medically adapted TGV will evacuate 36 coronavirus patients from hospital in Paris to Brittany today. The Ile-de-France (Paris region) is the worst hit in France and hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of Covid-19 cases. Government figures show there are 8,615 patients with the virus in hospital in the Ile-de-France. The Grand-Est (eastern France) region is the second worst hit with 4,246 coronavirus patients). There are currently 22,757 people with the coronavirus in hospitals across France, 5,565 of them in intensive care.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Health Minister Olivier Véran will be quizzed by the lower house of parliament, the Assemblée Nationale, today on the “impact, handling and consequences” of the coronavirus crisis.
Foreign secretaryDominic Raabsays he is relieved to have British nationals who were trapped inPeruhome after behind-the-scenes footage emerged of them flying back to the UK.
After a British Airways pilot yesterday shared footage from one of Tuesday’s repatriation flights from Peru, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “Relieved to have you home. Many thanks to all the BA crew and staff.
“I spoke to my Peruvian opposite number yesterday, to discuss how to return the remaining Brits who are confined because of domestic restrictions, and get them home safely.”
During the footage, a British woman on the flight says: “We’re so relieved to be heading back to the UK today. We’ve been stuck in Lima for a couple of weeks now on lockdown so, yeah, we’re just incredibly grateful to British Airways and [the] Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the armed forces who have just done an incredible job of coordinating us and lots of other people getting home today.”
Britons working from home and adapting to an unfamiliar routine may be putting themselves at risk due to potentially dangerous electrical set-ups and practices, a consumer safety charity is warning today.
New research from Electrical Safety First found that more than two-thirds of those currently working from home are using extension leads or adaptors with the electronic device they’re working on, while 38% have more appliances plugged into one than they usually would.
Yet more than one in three are either unaware of the risks of overloading plug sockets or how to check whether they’re doing so. By using extension leads and adaptors to plug additional devices into a socket, there is a danger that they could be overloaded, creating the risk of fire.
At the same time 44% of those currently working from home using extension leads or adapters admit to ‘daisy-chaining’ them together. This involves plugging one extension into another in order to reach further or plug more appliances in, but is advised against in all circumstances.
And more than half said they sometimes place an electrical item such as a laptop or phone on their bed while it is charging as part of their WFH set up. The charity says electrical items should only ever be left on hard, non-flammable surfaces unless switched off and not charging to avoid the risk of overheating.
Electrical Safety First is recommending those working from home take advantage of its Socket Overload Calculator to check they’re not plugging too many appliances in at once, and to pay extra attention to their electrical safety during their period of remote working.
Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said:
With 70% of those currently working from home doing so for the first time due to Covid-19, it’s unsurprising that not everyone will have a had a chance to ensure their work stations are free from electrical hazards. “Take a few minutes to make sure you’re not daisy-chaining extension leads of overloading your plug sockets and that you are charging your devices on hard, non-flammable surfaces. We should all pay extra attention to electrical safety during our period of remote working.”
The number of Covid-19 deaths in theUKis likely to get worse before the situation improves, a housing ministerRobert Jenrickhas warned.
The next couple of weeks will be “critical”, Jenrick stressed, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
It’s likely the numbers will get worse in the coming days before they get better.
If we all adhere to the measures then there is reason to believe they will begin to flatten the curve and we could see the evidence coming through that the NHS is being able to cope with the situation as best as possible.
If that is the case then there may be the potential to relax measures in a sensible way in accordance with medical advice in the weeks and months that would follow that.”
The UK’s Covid-19 death toll jumped 381 in a single day yesterday, with overall fatalities standing at 1,789. More than 25,000 people have tested positive for the virus.
On protective equipment, Jenrick earlier said there is a “military operation” ongoing to move stocks around the country and national distribution companies are also being used to “get the stocks out in a more organised and sustainable way”.
He continued: “That model should be in place in the next fortnight.”
A hospital trust in theUKhas issued a plea to firms which have shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic to donate protective equipment so they can be used by frontline staff.
Goggles and masks are among items that Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust is asking for to help protect healthcare workers.
It comes amid a global shortage of the gear used by medics to keep themselves safe has led to shortfalls in the UK, with at least one GP practice forced to order face shields on Amazon.
In a Facebook post, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust thanked firms for the food, drink and supplies already provided, then added: “If you have any additional equipment such as goggles or masks that you no longer need due to the shutdown and would be interested in donating please get in touch and we can put them to good use.”
Akhtar Mohammad Makoii
Afghanistanhas reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total number of infections to 196 as the disease continues to spread. Four have died in the country after contracting Covid-19, the country’s health ministry also confirmed.
Of the new cases, 12 were reported in western province of Herat, which borders Iran and is Afghanistan’s worst affected area with 143 positive cases of Covid-19. Around 75% of patients brought the virus fromIran, Afghanistan’s health ministry spokesman said.
Six cases have been confirmed in the country’s capital Kabul. One patient tested positive in Farah province, which also has a border with Iran, one of the world’s worst affected countries with around 2,900 deaths.
Afghanistan is implementing a partial curfew in all three provinces which have a border with Iran in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But testing remains low and experts fear the full extent of the spread is not known.
In another development, the U.N. Security Council urged Afghanistan’s warring parties to heed the U.N. secretary-general’s call for an immediate cease-fire to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country, AP reported.
UK government will test 25,000 a day for Covid-19 within a fortnight, minister says
TheUKgovernment is aiming to test 25,000 a day for Covid-19 within a fortnight, housing ministerRobert Jenrickhas said.
Downing Street is facing mounting criticism over a perceived lack of testing compared with other nations, with only 143,186 carried out to date. By comparison,Germanyis testing 70,000 a day.
The UK’s Covid-19 death toll jumped 381 in a single day yesterday, with overall fatalities standing at 1,789. More than 25,000 people have tested positive for the virus.
Asked when the country will be up to 25,000 tests a day, Jenrick told Sky’s Kay Burley: “We’ve said that we hope to be in that position by mid-April. We think within days we’ll be able to go from our present capacity, as I say, of 12,750, to 15,000. So that’s a significant increase but still not as far as we’d like it to be.
“And then mid-April is when we expect to be at 25,000. But we now do have enough tests, and this is an important point I was trying to make, to test not just those patients in critical care but to begin to test NHS staff which is obviously absolutely essential.”
Meanwhile, Jenrick also appeared on Good Morning Britain where he was grilled by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid:
The British housebuilding firmTaylor Wimpeyhas scrapped annual bonuses and announced its board will take a 30% pay cut.
It comes after the company temporarily closed all of its show homes, sales centres and construction sites due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A planned 2% annual salary increase set to come into force from today for executive directors will be cancelled, the company said. “The objective of these changes is to conserve cash, with a particular focus on protecting the long-term financial security of the business as a whole, for the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders,” Taylor Wimpey said in a statement to shareholders this morning.
To recap for those waking up in the UK, it has emerged that a British national is among four people who have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship.
Two of those who have died onboard the Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with a further nine people also testing positive, and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.
The ship, which is carrying more than 200 British nationals and is operated by Holland America cruse line, is embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to let passengers disembark in the US.
“One of the deceased passengers is from the UK,” a spokesman for Holland America said. “Due to US … laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”
The Zaandam, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.
But Florida’s governor is reluctant to allow disembarkation for the more than 1,000 people aboard the Zaandam. However, Donald Trump appears set to overrule him.
“They’re dying on the ship,” Trump said. “I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity.”
Lockdown measures inWuhan,the centre of the coronavirus outbreak inChina, may slowly be starting to lift but life is still far from ordinary for the city’s residents.
In one neighbourhood, residents and traders are doing business over two-metre plastic walls set up early in the crisis to enforce social distancing.
Today shoppers stood on chairs to peer over at goods on sale on the other side, shouting down to vendors to check on prices, as well as using payment apps on their mobile phones rather than risk grubby cash, to pick up groceries. Reuters reports:
It’s safer for us to sell behind these barricades,” the owner of a pork stall said.
Whiteboard signs hung up on the barriers told shoppers what was for sale on the other side. Most listed vegetables, rice, oil and meat but one promised crayfish, a local delicacy.
Some supermarkets also reopened on Wednesday, with one attracting a long line of shoppers – everyone spaced 1.5 metres apart – that snaked around blocks.
Some people wore raincoats or shower caps to ward off the virus. All wore masks and all seemed happy to finish with online shopping and delivered supplies.
“It wasn’t fresh,” said one 68-year-old man who gave his surname as Dong as he stood in the queue, referring to the groceries dropped off at his home by volunteers during the lockdown. “They didn’t look good, didn’t taste nice. If we go to the supermarket ourselves we’ll have more choice.”
On 8 April, people in Wuhan will be allowed to leave home for the first time since 23 January.
Hello readers, it’sSimon Murphyhere taking the helm of the live blog from the UK to steer you through today’s world coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Global deaths pass 42,000. Data collected by Johns Hopkins University researchers show at least 42,332 people have died across the world. At least 859,556 have been infected.
- US deaths could reach 240,000 according to the White House,whose models indicate at least 100,000 will die. Trump said the country should expect a “very, very painful two weeks.” US deaths currently exceed those in China.Monday was the deadliest day yet for the US, which has now lost more than 4,076 people.
- A British national is among four people to have died on the coronavirus-stricken Zaandam cruise shipembroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US, PA Media news agency reports.
- China’s national health commission on Wednesday reported 36 new Covid-19 cases and 130 new asymptomatic cases, bringing the total number of such cases under observation to 1,367. Previously, China has regarded asymptomatic patients as a low risk and not included them in its tally of confirmed cases.
- A US Navy captain asked permission to isolate crew on shore.The captain of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus, is asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5,000 crew members on shore, which would take the warship out of duty in an effort to save lives.
- Saudi Arabia urged Muslims to wait before making Hajj plans,until there is more clarity about the pandemic.
- Japan remains on the brink of a state of emergencyas the rate of coronavirus infections continues to increase in the country, its top government spokesman said on Wednesday.
- Cuba said on Tuesday it was suspending the arrival of international passenger flightsand asking all foreign boats to withdraw from the Caribbean island’s waters to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
- Turkmenistan banned the media from using the word “coronavirus”.An international media freedom watchdog says the autocratic ex-Soviet nation of Turkmenistan has banned the media from using the word “coronavirus”, AP reports.
- California hospitalisations double in four days, ICU patients triple.California governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations in the state had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of ICU patients tripled during that time.
- Twenty-eight students who returned to Texas after spring in Mexico have tested positive for coronavirus,although Mexican officials pushed back against the suggestion that they picked up the virus at the tourist spot, Reuters reports.
- France, Spain, Russia and the UK recorded their highest daily deaths.UK deaths were up 381 from 1,408 on the previous 24 hours and represent a 27% day-on-day increase – by far the biggest.
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. It has been a pretty sombre start to April, even by the standards of this crisis. As New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said last week, things are going to get worse before they get better.
My colleague Simon Murphy will be taking you through the latest developments for the next few hours.
The Bangladesh government appears to havelifted an internet ban imposed on more than 1 million Rohingya refugeesliving in cramped camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Wai Wai Nu, Rohingya activist and founder of the Women’s Peace Network, tweeted on Wednesday morning: “I am so happy to hear from my sisters and brothers after long time.”
She urged Myanmar to also lift a long-standing internet ban imposed on Rakhine state. A military crackdown in Rakhine in 2017 forced 730,000 Rohingya people to flee over the border to Bangladesh, where refugees now live in cramped conditions with limited hygiene facilities.
The lifting of the internet ban in Bangladesh follows warnings that panic and rumours were spreading in the camps, and that reliable information was desperately needed.
There are growing fears that the virus could spread rapidly in Cox’s Bazar, where a first case was confirmed last week.Volunteers have been playing public health information from radios and loudspeakers to spread awareness, but said the internet would allow messages to be shared far more quickly.
China pivots to tackle ‘silent’ Covid-19 carriers as US says a quarter of cases may have no symptoms
Chinese authorities have shifted their focus to tackling “silent”, or asymptomatic, carriers of the coronavirus as part of the next phase of the pandemic, amid concern among US health chiefs that a quarter of patients do not suffer symptoms.
The National Health Commission in China said it would start releasing a tally of asymptomatic patients from Wednesday and would order those cases into quarantine for 14 days, after the mainland witnessed its first rise in infections in five days.
Authorities reported 130 new asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of such cases under observation to 1,367.
Recent new infections likely caused by asymptomatic patients have prompted widespread public concern as the country lifts lockdown measures and citizens go back to work.
Those concerns were reflected on Tuesday by Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who said in a rare interview that as a many as one in four cases have no symptoms.
As a result, the CDC was now “aggressively reviewing” its recommendations on use of face masks, potentially extending their use based on the assumption that more people in “high transmission zones” were already infected but without symptoms.
China new cases
China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported 36 new Covid-19 cases and 130 new asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of such cases under observation to 1,367.
Previously, China has regarded asymptomatic patients as a low risk and not included them in their tally of confirmed cases.
The move to disclose the number of asymptomatic cases comes amid scrutiny of China’s reported figures, which previously only included people who exhibited symptoms.
The commission saidall but one of the 36 new cases was imported from abroad, while seven more deaths from the disease had been reported over the previous 24 hours.
More on Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David’s coronavirus message shared late on Tuesday in the US.
The comedian, 72, warned older people are being endangered by those going outside for non-essential trips and “socialising too close”.
In a video shared by the Office of the Governor of California, David said:
“Obviously, somebody put me up to this because it’s generally not the kind of thing I do, but I basically want to address the idiots out there – and you know who you are.
“You’re going out – I don’t know what you’re doing. You’re socialising too close, it’s not good.”
David, who created hit sitcoms Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, said people flouting the stay-at-home order could make elderly relatives ill.
He said: “You’re hurting old people like me – well, not me. I have nothing to do with you. I’ll never see you. But, you know, other – let’s say, other old people who might be your relatives! Who the hell knows.”
David also warned people were missing a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to “stay in the house, sit on the couch and watch TV”. “I don’t know how you’re passing that up,” he added.
A British national has died on the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship heading to Florida
A British national is among four people to have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US, PA news agency reports.
In what is being described as an unfolding humanitarian crisis, so far two of the four people to have died on the cruise ship Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with nine people aboard testing positive and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.
“One of the deceased passengers is from the UK,” a spokesman for the Holland America cruise line, which operates the Zaandam, said in an email to the PA news agency.
“Due to US … laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”
The Zaandam, which is carrying more than 200 British nationals, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.
But the state’s governor is reluctant to allow disembarkation for the more than 1,000 people aboard the Zaandam.