Beijing embassy warns Portuguese nationals of quarantine measures

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 27-01-2020 14:34:00 · 0 Comments

The Portuguese embassy in Beijing has alerted nationals in China to the very rapid evolution of the new coronavirus in the country, pointing to the speed with which local authorities are implementing quarantine measures.

"We underline that the evolution of the situation is very fast and that the decisions of the Chinese authorities to prevent the circulation of transports or to implement quarantine measures are not communicated in advance and are applied practically immediately," the note said, broadcasted on Sunday through the official portal of the embassy.

The notification comes after Chinese Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said that those infected with the new coronavirus, which originates in the city of Wuhan in the centre of the country, may transmit the disease during the incubation period, which takes between one day and two weeks.

During that period, the infected people show no symptoms, which counteracts the effect of screening measures such as temperature measurement at airports or train stations.

The minister warned that the spread of the virus, which has already killed 56 people in China and infected more than 2,000, should accelerate in the coming weeks.

The Chinese authorities have already banned the entry and exit of Wuhan and several neighbouring cities for an indefinite period, in a de facto quarantine that affects more than 40 million people.

The Portuguese government told Lusa that 20 Portuguese nationals who are resident in Wuhan or are visiting and is studying the possibility of removing them from that city if this is feasible in the light of public health rules.

Miguel Matos, one of the Portuguese living in Wuhan, told Lusa that in China's seventh-largest city, with 11 million inhabitants, the silence is total, with closed establishments and empty streets.

After the authorities' notification last Thursday, vegetables and other goods quickly sold out in the city's supermarkets as families accumulated supplies. At the gas stations, long lines also formed throughout the day.

The public health emergency occurs when China celebrates the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, equivalent to Christmas in Western countries, and during which hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel.

Beijing is considering extending the New Year holiday and postponing the reopening of schools as part of the effort to contain the spread of the disease.

Chinese travel agencies cancelled organised tours in and out of the country, while Beijing on Sunday suspended buses to and from the city.

The virus was first detected last month in a seafood market in the suburbs of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, which is also a major domestic and international transport hub but has since spread to several Chinese provinces.

The disease has been identified as a new type of coronavirus, like atypical pneumonia, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which between 2002 and 2003 killed 650 people in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Cases of coronavirus have since been detected in the United States, France, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Nepal.

In Portugal, the Directorate General of Health reported on Monday that the suspected case of infection under observation in Lisbon was negative after laboratory tests.

This is a man who had returned from Wuhan on Saturday and was admitted to Curry Cabral Hospital in a stable situation.

The European Centre for Disease Control admitted that the possibility of secondary transmission within the European Union is low if infection prevention and control practices related to a possible imported case are followed.

The symptoms associated with the coronavirus infection with the provisional name 2019-nCoV are more intense than the flu and include fever, pain, general malaise and breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath.


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