(TibetanReview.net, Feb17’20) – As China keeps trying to sound optimistic about bringing the Covid-19 infections and deaths under control, noting that the number of cases outside Hubei Province, its epicenter, had kept declining for the 13th day, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said Feb 16 that it was “impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.” Medical workers continue to contract the infection and police have taken away one more prominent critic of the leadership’s handling of the crisis.
Chinese health authority reported Feb 17 that it had received reports of 2,048 new confirmed cases and 105 deaths from across the mainland on Feb 16, taking their respective totals to 70,548 and 1,770.
The hardest-hit Hubei Province accounted for 1,933 of the newly confirmed cases and 100 of the new fatalities on Feb 16. The number of new cases reported from it slowed for a third consecutive day and, at 139, the number of deaths was level with the previous day’s toll, reported channelnewsasia.com Feb 17.
Also, 1,563 new suspected cases were reported across the mainland on Feb 16, taking the total to 7,264.
Another 1,200 doctors and nurses from China’s military began arriving in Wuhan on Feb 17 morning, the latest contingent sent to help shore up the city’s overwhelmed health-care system, reported AP Feb 17.
For the first time since the beginning of the Corvid-19 outbreak, China’s National Health Commission reported on Feb 14, that at least 1,716 health workers had been infected while treating patients with the virus. This has raised concerns about the capability of the government to protect the caregivers in direct contact with the afflicted, said an aljazeera.com report Feb 17.
The report cited Zeng Yixin, the deputy director of China’s health commission, as saying during a news conference on Feb 14 that infected medical workers comprised 3.8 percent of all those who had contracted the virus across the country.
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International experts participating in the @WHO-led joint mission with (China) had their first meeting with Chinese counterparts on Feb 16.
“We look forward to this vitally important collaboration contributing to global knowledge about the #COVID19 outbreak,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Twitter.
He has warned that it was “impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.”
“We ask all governments, companies and news organisations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm without fanning the flames of hysteria,” he was quoted as saying at the Munich Security Conference.
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On Feb 15, Chinese authorities detained a prominent activist and legal scholar who had issued a blistering attack on president Xi Jinping for mishandling the coronavirus crisis amid a nationwide crackdown on speech freedom. Xu Zhiyong, a former law lecturer and founder of the social campaign New Citizens Movement, was taken away by police while seeking refuge at the home of a lawyer in the southern city of Guangzhou, reported theguardian.com Feb 17, citing activists Ye Du and Hua Ze.
Xu had published an essay early this month, calling on President Xi to resign for his lack of ability to govern China, citing the coronavirus crisis and the mishandling of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
“You didn’t authorise the truth to be released, and the outbreak turned into a national disaster,” Xu was quoted as having written.
“Whenever you face looming crisis, you’re clueless. … I don’t think you’re an evil man, you’re just not wise … Mr Xi Jinping, please step down.”
Xu was reportedly on the run since December.
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Meanwhile aljazeera.com reported Feb 16 that President Xi and other leaders knew about the seriousness of the outbreak weeks before it was revealed to the public, citing his speech.
Also, although denied and rejected both in China and abroad, a dailymail.co.uk report Feb 16 said Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology (Guangdong Province, China) had concluded that “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan”.
“The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus,” penned by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao is said to report that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WHCDC) kept disease-ridden animals in laboratories, including 605 bats.
The scholars were reported to have mentioned that bats – which are linked to coronavirus – once attacked a researcher and “blood of bat was on his skin”.