Authorities in Beijing announced that all arrivals from overseas will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility, while some will be allowed to undergo a 14-day home quarantine, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) from Tuesday, March 17. Hubei province officials issued a similar directive effective 00:00 (local time) on March 17. The decision follows after the country's National Health Commission recorded more imported cases than local transmissions for the fourth consecutive day. The Health Commission confirmed just one new case on Monday, March 16, in Wuhan (Hubei province) but 20 new imported cases on the same day across mainland China. The total number of imported cases stands at 143 nationwide as of 00:00 on March 17.
A significant proportion of large businesses, and many small- and medium-sized businesses have resumed operations nationally. However, Hubei province remains under strict lockdown.
As of March 17, the National Health Commission has confirmed 80,881 cases of COVID-19 nationwide, including 68,679 recoveries and 3226 associated fatalities. At the original epicentre in Hubei province, authorities have confirmed 67,799 cases of the virus. Officials in Wuhan closed the last of its 15 makeshift temporary hospitals on Tuesday, March 10, after the number of new cases per day reduced significantly. Nevertheless, further spread of the virus is anticipated in 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 (Hubei province, 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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.