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25 Feb 2020 | 02:25 AM UTC

China: Some provinces lower emergency response alert levels February 24 /update 38

Authorities in four provinces lowered their alert level for coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency reponse on February 24, amid 77,660 confirmed cases; further spread of the virus expected

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Event

Authorities in Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi, and Guizhou provinces lowered their public health emergency alert levels from level I (the highest level of a four-tier response system) on Monday, February 24, following a consistent fall in coronavirus (COVID-19) case rates. Guangdong and Shanxi reduced their response measures to a level II, while Yunnan and Guizhou lowered their alerts to a level III. Gansu province was the first to reduce its emergency response measures to a level III on Friday, February 21, followed by Liaoning that also issued a level III alert on Saturday, February 22.

On Tuesday, February 25, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) urged global aviation regulators to resume international flights to China as it said that domestic flight operations will gradually resume around the country. However, CAAC officials said that flights to Hubei province will remain suspended until further notice. Hubei province - the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak - remains on strict lockdown, while all other provinces have marked a reduction in coronavirus-related fatalities rates in recent days. Local authorities recorded 150 COVID-19 related fatalities on Sunday, February 23, and all but one of the deaths were in Hubei province.

As of Tuesday, 77,660 people in mainland China have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, and at least 2663 people have died due to COVID-19. Significant transportation and business disruptions are expected to persist throughout China as authorities continue to attempt to contain the outbreak.

Context

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). 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 more than 30 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.

Advice

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.