Uproar over ex-convict flees Wuhan for Beijing amid Virus Lockdown


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A former inmate whose family drove her from the locked-down city of Wuhan to Beijing, where she was diagnosed with the new coronavirus, has caused indignation in China.

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Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first found in December, has been effectively sealed off with flights, trains, buses and private cars banned in the city.

The woman arrived in Beijing on Saturday and moved into her family’s home in a community in the central Dongcheng district.

As a traveller from Wuhan, she was being monitored by community members and was taken to the hospital by ambulance with a fever a day later, according to the state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

On Monday, she was diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease that has so far killed more than 2,700 people across China and infected more than 78,000.

The ex-convict’s story caused an uproar on social media, where people questioned why her family were able to drive her out of the locked-down city.

Ying Yong, the secretary of the Hubei provincial party committee, said an investigation has been launched into the woman’s departure.

Addressing speculation that her family was politically well-connected, Ying said laws and regulations must be thoroughly enforced, no matter whom they concerned.

“I want to know what kind of people can come and go freely from Wuhan under such strict controls,’’ one user on the micro-blogging platform Weibo wrote.

The Beijing Municipal Discipline Inspection Commission also announced it has launched an investigation meant to verify whether there are loopholes in the entire process of epidemic prevention and control,’’ said Xiao Xun, director of a new work group focused on coronavirus prevention.

Meanwhile, China reported a slowdown in the number of coronavirus related deaths, with 29 new casualties counted over the past day.

This is the smallest number in almost a month.

Renowned epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan said he expected the coronavirus outbreak to peak by late February.

“We are confident that the outbreak will be basically controlled by the end of April,’’ he said, according to People’s Daily.

China has counted 78,497 infections, including 433 infections over the past day, and 2,744 deaths.

Elsewhere, South Korea reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases on Thursday with 334 new infections confirmed, bringing the total to 1,595 in the country.

The majority of the cases  including 307 of the new ones  are concentrated in the south-eastern city of Daegu and its surrounding region.

The city has a population of around 2.5 million.

The fast spreading outbreak is the largest outside China and has also hit Cheongdo in North Gyeongsang Province.

Twelve deaths related to the Covid-19 illness caused by the virus have been recorded in South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  added.

South Korea and the United States postponed joint training in response to Seoul’s declaration of the highest alert level severe on COVID-19, South Korea-U.S Combined Forces Command said in a statement.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, this is the first time Washington and Seoul have decided to modify their joint exercises due to health issues.

In Washington, U.S President Donald Trump said he may restrict travel to and from South Korea and Italy, the country with the third most infections reported, but only at the right time.

“Right now it’s not the right time,’’ Trump told reporters.

The U.S State Department has however raised its travel advisory for South Korea, advising citizens to reconsider travel.

Taiwan also raised its epidemic response level to the highest rating.

The self-ruled island has so far reported 32 confirmed cases, including one death.

Several mass gatherings have been postponed including the upcoming Matsu pilgrimages in central Taiwan, scheduled for mid-March.

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