Officers in protective gear enter the Diamond Princess after the cruise ship arrived at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, last weekend. (Reuters)
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SHANGHAI/BEIJING – Coronavirus deaths top SARS as China returns to work returning to work after an extended Lunar New Year break.
Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools.
Today, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home.
China’s ambassador to Britain described the newly identified virus as “the enemy of mankind” in a BBC interview on Sunday, but added it “is controllable, is preventable, is curable”.
“At this moment it is very difficult to predict when we are going to have an inflection point,” Liu Xiaoming said. “We certainly hope it will come soon, but the isolation and quarantine measures have been very effective.”
China’s cabinet said it would coordinate with transport authorities to ensure the smooth return to work of employees in key industries such as food and medicines.
China’s National Health Commission recorded another 89 deaths on Saturday, pushing the total well above the 774 who died from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002/2003.
Total confirmed coronavirus cases in China stood at 37 198, commission data showed. New infections recorded the first drop since February 1, falling back below 3 000 to 2 656 cases. Of those, 2 147 cases were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak. (Reuters)