Graphic photos show virus ‘nightmare’ in Wuhan
Fresh photos taken on the streets of Wuhan reveal the confronting reality of the coronavirus crisis, with dead bodies pictured lying on the pavement.
The virus has also spread overseas, with cases being reported in more than 20 countries.
The pictures below, taken by an AFP photographer on January 30, shows officials in protective suits checking on an elderly man wearing a face mask who collapsed and died on a street near a hospital in Wuhan.
Soon after the photo was taken, an emergency vehicle arrived carrying police and medical staff in full-body protective suits.
The confronting image represents the extent of the crisis, which the government and health officials are struggling to contain.
“When you’re there and there’s no transportation, no trains, no subways, no planes, the military is blocking off each and every aspect of the road … You think to yourself, like, ‘is this real?’ Is this a movie? Is this a nightmare?’,” he told the publication.
The once-bustling city has essentially ground to a holt, with deserted streets and empty shops and restaurants as residents and visitors desperately try to avoid infection.
“Right now I’m in a state of guilt, remorse and self-reproach,” said Ma Guoqiang, the municipal Communist Party secretary for Wuhan.
“If strict control measures had been taken earlier, the result would have been better than now,” he told an interview with state broadcaster CCTV.
The virus has affected more than 9800 people worldwide, surpassing the total from the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.
Earlier on Friday Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said the task of containing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the city remains “severe and complex”.
Wuhan officials have been criticised online for withholding information about the infection until the end of last year, despite knowing about the new illness weeks earlier.
Wuhan and cities in surrounding Hubei province have been locked down since January 23, with blanket transport restrictions effectively trapping around 56 million people at home.
Ma said the restrictions should have been brought in at least 10 days earlier.
“I think if we had taken measures like this at the time, the epidemic may have been alleviated somewhat, and not got to the current situation,” he said.
CHINA SLAMS US FOR TRAVEL WARNING
It comes as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended all flights to and from China on Friday.
“Certain US officials’ words and actions are neither factual nor appropriate,” China’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
“Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the US rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly not a gesture of goodwill.”
VIRUS SPREAD TO THE UK
The two patients are related and were staying at a hotel in Yorkshire when they fell ill, according to local news reports.
“We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus,” the Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, said in a statement on Friday morning (UK time).
Mr Whitty added the patients were receiving specialist care, including “tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus”.
“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place,” he said.
They are now believed to be at a hospital in Newcastle, in northeast England, though health officials declined to confirm their location, citing patient confidentiality.
Russia also reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday (Russian time).
The two men are now in isolation and haven’t been in contact with anyone, the head of the country’s public health agency, Anna Popova, said.
The infections emerged just one day after Russia closed its land border with China and suspended most train traffic between the countries.
ALMOST 10000 PEOPLE INFECTED
The declaration means there will be a greater focus on a global response, with WHO fearful of what could happen if the virus reaches countries ill-prepared to cope with high infection rates.
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The epidemic has so far infected almost 10000 people and killed 213, according to China’s National Health Commission.
A growing number of cases have been reported in at least 19 other countries, including Australia.
Several countries have now tightened travel restrictions to China, including the United States, Japan and Iran.
Singapore said it was suspending entry to travellers with a recent history of travel to China and suspending visas for Chinese passport holders. The ban, effective on Saturday, will also apply to those transiting Singapore, a major travel hub.
The WHO has reported at least eight instances of human-to-human transmission in four countries: the United States, Germany, Japan and Vietnam. Thailand said on Friday it too had a case of human-to-human transmission.
Some airlines have stopped flying to mainland China, including Air France KLM SA, British Airways, Germany’s Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic. Others have cut flights.
Several foreign governments evacuating citizens from Hubei are holding them in quarantine for the 14-day incubation period of the virus.
The evacuees will be flown back to Darwin first before being transported on to Christmas Island in smaller aircraft, where they’ll spend 14 days in quarantine.
– With wires