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First suspected coronavirus pneumonia infection in Lhasa reported, 140 confirmed in other Tibetan areas


(TibetanReview.net, Jan29’20) – As the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus pneumonia crossed the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) infections of 2002-03, China on Jan 29 reported what it said was the first suspected case in Tibet’s capital Lhasa. The patient, surnamed Zhang, 34, was from the city of Suizhou in central China’s Hubei Province, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 29. A total of 140 cases have been confirmed in other provinces incorporating historically Tibetan populated areas.

The report said Zhang had come to Lhasa by train from the provincial capital Wuhan on Jan 24 and was hospitalized the next day. The patient’s vital signs are stable, and close contacts have been put under medical observation, the report said.

Earlier, rfa.org reported Jan 28 that Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces which include historically Tibetan populated territories, had confirmed 140 cases of the coronavirus infection.

It cited the China Tibet Broadcasting website as reporting that as of Jan 27, Sichuan had confirmed 90 cases, Yunnan 26, Gansu 19, and Qinghai six. Four of the patients in Gansu were stated to be in critical condition.

The ethnicity of the patients remains unknown.

* * *

Meanwhile the number of confirmed cases of the rapidly spreading coronavirus infection in mainland China had reached 5,974, by Jan 28 night, a total surpassing the cases China had in the 2002-03 of the Sars epidemic that killed almost 800 people worldwide, noted the scmp.com Jan 29.

The death toll from the new coronavirus had reached 132, with 840 newly confirmed cases in Hubei province, where the outbreak was discovered in the provincial capital Wuhan.

The deaths have all been reported in mainland China, with 125 in Hubei and seven in other provinces. About 3,300 people were hospitalised in Hubei, with more than 20,000 being observed for infection, the report said.

The novel coronavirus outbreak may reach its peak in one week or around 10 days, another Xinhua report Jan 29 cited “renowned” Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan as saying.

“It is very difficult to definitely estimate when the outbreak reaches its peak. But I think in one week or about 10 days, it will reach the climax and then there will be no large-scale increases,” Zhong was quoted as saying.

President Xi Jinping has told the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Jan 28 that the new coronavirus was a “devil” and that China was confident of winning the battle against it. He had earlier said Jan 25, the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rat, that the spread of the deadly new virus was “accelerating”.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, had said on Jan 23, “Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.” The WHO’s risk assessment at the time was very high in China, high at the regional level, and high at the global level, noted a japantimes.co.jp commentary Jan 28.

* * *

Xi wanted the WHO and international community to give a “calm, objective and rational” assessment of the virus, reported Reuters Jan 28, citing Chinese state television.

In this connection, the Chinese embassy in Denmark on Jan 28 demanded an apology from daily Jyllands-Posten after it published a cartoon of the Chinese flag with its five yellow stars represented by coronavirus particles.

The embassy issued a statement, demanding that Jyllands-Posten and Danish artist Niels Bo Bojesen apologize to the Chinese people for publishing the image, captioned “Coronavirus”, in the Jan 27 edition of the paper, said another Reuters report Jan 28.

“Without any sympathy and empathy, it has crossed the bottom line of civilized society and the ethical boundary of free speech and offends human conscience,” the embassy was quoted as saying.

Editor-in-chief Jacob Nybroe has said the paper had not intended to make fun of the situation in China and refused to apologize.

“We cannot apologize for something that we don’t believe is wrong. … We have no intention of demeaning or mocking the situation in China and we don’t think the drawing does that,” Nybroe has said.

The report said Danish politicians from across the spectrum had asked China not to pressure the paper. “Full support for Jyllands-Posten,” Conservative Party leader Soren Pape Poulsen was reported to have tweeted.

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