Authorities in Hubei province issued new directives restricting movement in the province on Sunday, February 16, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). They have banned the all vehicles on roads except those belonging to emergency personnel, officials, carrying daily necessities, or public transportation. Authorities also confirmed the closure of all non-essential public places and special activities, including businesses, until further notice; only pharmacies and supermarkets will remain open. Entry and exit of all communities is to be strictly controlled with each household only nominating one person to leave every three days to purchase household necessities. Hubei province authorities said that any person violating any of the disease response and control directives issued will be held accountable under the law. More information regarding provincial directives can be found on the local government's website here. Significant transportation and business disruptions are ongoing throughout China as authorities attempt to contain the outbreak; cases have been confirmed in every Chinese region.
The COVID-19 death toll in China has risen to 1775 as of Monday, February 17. Globally, 71,329 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, with 99 percent of cases reported in China. In Beijing, individuals returning from extended holidays after Friday, February 14, were required to self-isolate for 14 days. A local news outlet reported that individuals failing to self-quarantine would be held accountable under the law.
The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held in Shanghai between April 17-19, was postponed due to health concerns. Other major international events may also be suspended or delayed in the near term.
Further international spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 28 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals in China are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.