Chinese virus: 9 dead and 440 infected. Attempts to quarantine Wuhan
by Wang Zhicheng

Mandatory quarantine measures to contain infections. The Wuhan city council gave indications not to leave the city except in really necessary cases. The Catholic churches of Wuhan, Hankow, Wuchang closed. All daily masses and New Year masses cancelled. New cases of infection in Macau, in the USA, in Taiwan. Criticism of Chinese health system.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The virus originating in the city of Wuhan (Hubei) has so far killed nine people and infected 440 others across the country, confirmed Deputy director of the National Health Commission Li Bin this morning. All deaths are registered in the province of Hubei and the government is extending quarantine measures to contain infections.

The national government has given authority to medical institutions to force all patients or people who come into contact with them into isolation; each infection must be notified within two hours. The Wuhan city council gave citizens instructions not to leave the city except in really necessary cases, to always wear a mask, not to frequent crowded places, to wash their hands often, not to spit, not to spread alarmist rumors.

The task seems almost impossible. Wuhan is a city with 11 million people and the Lunar New Year celebrations will begin on January 25, in which the Chinese meet to greet and eat together with family, friends, colleagues.

The Catholic churches of Wuhan, Hankow, Wuchang have been temporarily closed. All daily masses and New Year masses have been canceled. The priests advise the faithful to always wear protective masks and to pray that Wuhan will be reborn after this difficulty.

Meanwhile, due to travel to and from Wuhan, the virus has spread to different parts of Asia and the wider world. This morning the first infection was registered in Macau; yesterday in Taiwan and the United States. Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines have already been affected. In China, as well as in Hubei, there are cases of infection in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen (Guangdong). Today North Korea  closed its borders to all Chinese tourists.

All infected people had been to Wuhan. The corona-virus - baptized with the name 2019-nCoV - generates a disease similar to pneumonia. It was generated by some animal (believed to be seafood) and mutated until it was transmitted from human to human. Among the infected people there are 15 members of the medical staff who treated the first patients. One of them is in serious condition.

There is no shortage of criticism: British and Hong Kong experts believe that the actual number of infections in China could be at least 1700 and not around 400, as revealed by the authorities. In addition, there are criticisms of the pyramid structure that must be followed to confirm cases of infection: each case must in fact be studied and approved by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Beijing, which delays communications and medical measures. Experts also note that the infection of medical personnel are a sign of the neglect with which these diseases are treated by the hospitals themselves.