Ten die at collapsed China quarantine site; worldwide virus cases pass 100,000-mark

Published March 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Reuters and Agence France-Presse

SHANGHAI/BEIJING – Ten people have died and 23 remain trapped after the collapse of a hotel that was being used to quarantine people under observation for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, authorities said on Sunday.

Dozens have so far been rescued from the rubble of the 80-room Xinjia hotel in Quanzhou city (AFP Photo/STR)
Dozens have so far been rescued from the rubble of the 80-room Xinjia hotel in Quanzhou city (AFP Photo/STR)

More than 70 people were believed to have been initially trapped in the seven-story building, which collapsed on Saturday evening.

As of 10:30 a.m. Beijing time on Sunday, authorities had rescued 43 people, with 36 of them sent to hospital, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Pictures from the site showed rescue workers clad in hard hats, googles and face masks carrying injured people away to waiting medical staff in white overalls and surgical masks.

A rescue force of over 1,000 people, including firefighters, police forces, and other emergency responders, arrived at the site on Saturday night, authorities told a media conference organized by the Quanzhou government on Sunday.

Of the 71 people inside the hotel at the time of the collapse, 58 had been under quarantine, they added.

Virus spreads

A US Marine in the Washington D.C. area who recently returned from official travel overseas has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Pentagon said on Saturday, in what would be the third confirmed case among US service members and the first in the United States.

The other two US troops who have tested positive are a sailor in Italy and a soldier in South Korea.

Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that the Marine was assigned to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and was currently being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Across the world there have been almost 105,000 cases recorded in 95 countries and territories with 3,556 deaths, according to AFP’s latest toll based on official sources at 1700 GMT Saturday.

The main countries affected are mainland China (80,651 cases, 3,070 deaths), South Korea (6,767 cases, 44 deaths), Italy (5,883 cases, 233 deaths), Iran, (5,823 cases, 145 deaths), France (949 cases, 16 deaths) and Germany (785 cases, no deaths).

Colombia, Costa Rica, Maldives, Paraguay, and Malta have announced their first cases.

The coronavirus was detected in 21 out of 46 people tested onboard the cruise ship Grand Princess, moored off the coast of California with 3,533 passengers and crew members.

Russia has closed its borders to foreign travelers from Iran.

The European Central Bank (ECB) asked 3,700 employees based in Frankfurt to carry out a day of telework on Monday, to test its emergency plan in the event of confinement.

Facebook has closed its London offices and part of its premises in Singapore after a worker tested positive.

Nurseries and schools will be closed for two weeks from Monday in two French departments, Oise and Haut-Rhin, where outbreaks have occurred.

Italy has closed museums, theatres, cinemas and other entertainment venues nationwide to fight the spread of the coronavirus, said a decree signed Sunday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

On top of the forced quarantine of 15 million people in vast areas of northern Italy until April 3, the government has also closed schools, nightclubs and casinos throughout the country, according to the text of the decree published on the government website.

With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December.

‘Somber moment’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described worldwide virus cases passing the 100,000-mark as a “somber moment.”

However in China, the number of new cases reported Sunday nationwide was the lowest in weeks, with nearly all 44 of them in the outbreak epicentre Wuhan.

The government has hinted it may soon lift the quarantine imposed on locked-down Hubei province, where some 56 million people have been effectively housebound since late January and of which Wuhan is the capital.

The only infections in China beyond the epicentre were imported abroad, including arrivals from Italy and Spain in Beijing, as fears grow about cases being brought into the country from overseas.

The WHO said the efforts of China and other countries were “demonstrating that spread of the virus can be slowed” with the path of the disease even “reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities”.

State of emergency

The governor of New York on Saturday announced a state of emergency as the coronavirus continued to spread in the northeastern state, with 21 new cases.

A total of 76 people have so far tested positive for the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters in the state capital of Albany. Ten of those affected have been hospitalized.

The state of emergency, he said, “allows expedited purchasing and expedited hiring, which are the things we need now.”

A 64-year-old man died of the novel coronavirus Saturday in Argentina, authorities said, making him Latin America’s first fatality in the global epidemic.

The Buenos Aires man had returned from Europe on February 25, Argentina’s health ministry said in a statement, without specifying which country or countries he had visited.

He became ill on February 28 with a fever, cough and sore throat and sought medical care on March 4. The patient was hospitalized in intensive care and required machine-assisted breathing, the statement said.