Chinese President Xi Jinping called the accelerating spread of the novel coronavirus a “grave situation” and suspended international tourist travel from his country. The Chinese leader pledged China would “win this battle to beat the epidemic.”
“Confronted with the grave situation of this accelerating spread of pneumonia from infections with the novel coronavirus, we must step up the centralized and united leadership under the party central” leadership, Mr. Xi told members of the Communist Patry Politburo, the New York Times reported.
As part of the effort to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus which began in Wuhan, China, the president said China would suspend all tour groups and the sale of flight and hotel packages for its citizens headed overseas. The suspension of ticket sales begins on Monday.
China marked the beginning of its Lunar New Year’s holiday with an announcement of 15 additional deaths of patients infected with the coronavirus. The new deaths include a 62-year-old ear, nose, and throat specialist, the Times reported. This brings the death toll in China to 41.
The deceased doctor retired last year and health officials did not say if he had been treating patients or became infected some other way.
Officials report 38 of the 41 deaths occurred in Wuhan. The latest victims ranged in age from 55 to 87. The number of confirmed cased in China climbed to nearly 1,400.
“We’re sure to be able to win in this battle to beat the epidemic through prevention and control,” Mr. Xi said during his Politburo meeting broadcast.
Chinese plans to curtail the spread of the virus include:
Mr. Xi demanded strong efforts to provide medicine and other supplies, a point of anger among many doctors and medical workers in Wuhan who have complained about a shortage of protective masks, gowns and other safety equipment.
Officials in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began, received an implicit telling off. Residents and many other Chinese people have said that officials did not respond seriously enough. Hubei, the meeting said, “must make containment and control of the epidemic its topmost priority, adopting even stricter measures to prevent it expanding within and spreading outward.”
The meeting called for concentrating resources, experts and treatment to cope with the surge of infections, including sending patients with serious symptoms to designated medical units. This suggests that there may be more hospitals built or modified to deal solely with the outbreak.
Local and military medical resources are to be pooled for the response.
Public spaces across China, including railway stations, airports, and ports, were told to step up measures to deter the spread of the virus, including ventilation, disinfection, and body temperature checks for people. “When suspected cases are found they must be held for observation locally,” the meeting ordered.