Health, China, Coronavirus, Covid-19

Health, China

Ukraine minister joins evacuees after quarantine row

Ukraine's health minister has volunteered to spend two weeks in quarantine as authorities looked to calm panic after protesters attacked buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China

21/02/2020 22:05:00

Ukraine's health minister has volunteered to spend two weeks in quarantine as authorities looked to calm panic after protesters attacked buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China

Ukraine's health minister has volunteered to spend two weeks in quarantine as authorities looked to calm panic today after protesters attacked buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China .

Protesters said they feared the evacuees carried the virus and posed a threat to their community.Riot police with armoured vehicles moved in to disperse the protesters, sparking clashes that injured nine policemen and one civilian.Authorities called for calm, with senior officials rushing to the town and President Volodymyr Zelensky urging solidarity. 

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In a bid to allay fears, Health Minister Zoryana Skaletska said she would be joining the evacuees, who include 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreigners, in quarantine."I will spend the next 14 days with them, in the same premises, under the same conditions," she said.

"Today we agreed on the conditions of my stay and I was sent to the observation zone," Ms Skaletska said on Facebook later in the day.Mr Zelensky said "unprecedented" measures had been taken to prevent the spread of the virus across Ukraine.

He also urged Ukrainians to refrain from staging protests."We constantly say that Ukraine is Europe. But yesterday in some episodes, it seemed that we are Europe of the Middle Ages," Mr Zelensky said."Let's not forget that we are all human beings," he added.

Meanwhile, South Korea confirmed 48 more cases of novel coronavirus as the number of infections linked to a religious sect in Daegu spiked, making it the worst-affected country outside China.Forty-six of the new cases were connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, taking the country's overall figure to 204.

More than 90 members of Shincheonji have now been infected, starting with a 61-year-old woman who developed a fever on 10 February but attended at least four church services before being diagnosed.The mayor of Daegu - South Korea's fourth-biggest city, with a population of over 2.5 million - has advised locals to stay indoors, while access to a major US military base in the area has been restricted.

The streets remained active Friday with most people wearing masks, but many businesses were closed due to the outbreak.The virus spreads through droplets disseminated by sneezing or coughing, highlighting the risks for large groups of confined people, possibly without adequate access to soap and water.

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The wife and a close friend of the initial patient had the virus and were now in quarantine, Giulio Gallera, a member of the local government, said in a statement.The initial patient fell ill after meeting a friend who had recently returned from China.

Iran's health ministry reported two more deaths among 13 new cases of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, bringing the total number of deaths to four and infections to 18."Thirteen new cases have been confirmed," ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Twitter.

"Unfortunately two of them have lost their lives."Israel has confirmed its first case of the infection.The first case of coronavirus in Lebanon was also confirmed, the health minister said, adding that two other suspected cases were being investigated.

"We confirmed the first case today," Hassan Hamad said at a press conference in Beirut. The virus was found in a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had travelled from Qom in Iran, he said, adding that she was in good health.Spike in cases seen in Chinese prisons

More than 400 cases of coronavirus have been detected in prisons across China.Hubei, the hard-hit central province where the virus emerged late last year, said 271 cases were reported by its prisons, including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities.

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Another 34 cases were found at Shilifeng prison in eastern Zhejiang province, leading to the sacking of its director and another official.Hubei also announced that a total of 411 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the province yesterday, but later revised its figure up to 631 to include the prison numbers.

Health officials said 36 patients, medical workers and family members have been infected with the virus at Beijing's Fuxing hospital, which has been partially sealed off since 31 January.An elderly woman receiving kidney treatment at Peking University People's Hospital also tested positive after two infected relatives visited her earlier this month, the hospital said.

Quarantine still not over for left-behind cruise ship crewIn Japan, a 14-day quarantine period is ending for most passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, but it is far from over for the more than 1,000 crew.More than 600 people on board the cruise liner, quarantined off Yokohama since arriving on 3 February carrying 3,700 people, have been infected with the virus.

Two of them - both Japanese in their 80s - died yesterday, and about 100 passengers will be transferred ashore in coming days for further quarantine because they were in close quarters with infected travellers.However, while passengers on board were confined to their cabins around the clock apart from an hour of fresh air on deck, most crew did not undergo quarantine as they were needed to keep the ship running.

They were preparing food and delivering meals to cabins, leading some critics to charge they were inadvertently spreading the virus throughout the ship.As they have been in close contact with possibly infected passengers, the crew is expected to undergo a 14-day quarantine starting when the last passenger leaves the ship.

Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz wrote a letter to the crew in which she said the firm was "deeply grateful and incredibly proud of all of you.""You deserve, and will need, a break. So, we offer you two months of paid time off. This will include your salary and any average gratuities you may normally receive."

Two Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus on their return home despite being cleared in Japan.Health officials in Canberra said all 164 Australians who returned home earlier this week were tested for Covid-19 in Japan and returned negative results.

But six evacuees have since been re-tested, and two - described as "an older person" and "a younger person" - were found to be infected.Australian officials stressed the discovery was "not unexpected", given the continued spread of the disease on the Diamond Princess after testing began.

Hundreds of foreigners have been allowed to leave the ship after being cleared of the virus, but many have returned to their home countries to face further quarantine.Hundreds of cleared Japanese passengers, however, were warned only to "stay at home unless absolutely necessary", to never use public transport, and to use a mask if they venture out.

North Korea cancels marathon over fear of coronavirusMeanwhile, North Korea has cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon - its biggest tourist money-spinner of the year - because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.Beijing-based Koryo Tours, the official partner of the marathon, said it received the official confirmation today, adding the Pyongyang Marathon 2020 will not take place due to the "ongoing closure of the North Korean border and COVID-19 virus situation in China and the greater region".

Young Pioneer Tours, which specialises in budget trips to the isolated country, issued a similar statement. The annual marathon is held in April as part of the anniversary commemorations for founder Kim Il Sung's birth in 1912, and attracts curious foreigners eager to run through the streets of the tightly controlled city.

Read more: RTÉ News »

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