Chinese Coronavirus: First European Cases as Beijing Cracks Down, Locking Down 56 Million People

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 25: A Chinese health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering a subway station during the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival on January 25, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 1300 in mainland China …
Getty Images

Three cases of the deadly Chinese Coronavirus have been confirmed in France, the first in Europe, as the Chinese government moves to lockdown whole cities impacted by the disease, where an estimated 56 million people are now subjected to travel restrictions.

The first cases in Europe have been confirmed in France, where a man who travelled from China on Wednesday was diagnosed and is receiving treatment in the city of Bordeaux, and two other individuals are being treated a separate case in Paris. Those two also came to France from China recently and are members of the same family.

France has the first cases because its doctors are better equipped to detect the virus than their counterparts in other European nations, health minister Agnès Buzyn said in a strangely dark boast Friday. The comments also imply Coronavirus carrying individuals are already present in other European nations but have yet to be detected.

These developments come as the second confirmed case of Coronavirus was reported in the United States. Others have been observed in Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Nepal.

On Friday, the British health secretary Matt Hancock warned it was “increasingly likely” there would be Coronavirus cases in the UK, noting that university towns with large populations of Chinese university students were most at rist.

The official Chinese government death toll presently stands at 41, with 1,287 infected, with 237 of those in critical condition. Those official numbers may be questioned, with British newspaper The Daily Telegraph noting both concerns of a coverup by authorities, and of civil liberties abuses stemming from the extraordinary scale of the lockdown being imposed by the Chinese government.

In addition to the quarantine imposed on the city of Wuhan itself where the virus originated, at least 17 other cities are experiencing major travel restrictions, meaning 56 million people — equivalent to the entire population of England — have been placed on lockdown by the Chinese government. Difficult to substantiate claims from inside Wuhan itself state locals knew of the spread of the Coronavirus last year, weeks before the Chinese government admitted there was a problem or started to take action.

Chinese police have, however, “handled” individuals who spoke about the virus on social media. It is not clear what being “handled” by Chinese police in this context actually means for the individuals involved.

While the Coronavirus has caught headlines worldwide, the World Health Organisation has not declared it a global emergency, noting earlier this week it is instead “an emergency in China”. By way of contrast, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control notes this winter, 15 million people in the United States were infected with flu, 140,000 of them hospitalised, and 8,200 deaths.

The approximately 8,200 deaths in the U.S. linked to flu figure comes in a season where deaths have actually fallen, are below epidemic levels, and hospitalisations are at historically normal levels, putting the present spread of Coronavirus so far in areas like the U.S. and Europe into some perspective.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.