Coronavirus: Beijing orders 14-day quarantine for returnees

·As Egypt confirms the first case in Africa

Beijing has ordered everyone returning to the city to go into quarantine for 14 days or risk punishment in the latest attempt to contain the deadly new coronavirus, state media report.

Residents were told to “self-quarantine or go to designated venues to quarantine” after returning to the Chinese capital from holidays.

The measure came as Egypt confirmed the first coronavirus case in Africa, reports the BBC.

Over 1,300 people have died from the virus, which originated in Wuhan city.

The notice on Friday from Beijing’s virus prevention working group was issued as residents returned from spending the Lunar New Year in other parts of China.

The holiday was extended this year to help contain the outbreak.

More than 20 million people live in Beijing.

In China alone, more than 63,000 people have been infected with the virus, and 1,381 have died.

Outside China, there have been 505 cases in 24 countries, and two deaths.

A World Health Organisation (WHO)-led mission to China will start its outbreak investigation work this weekend, focusing on how the virus is spreading and its severity, director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The mission, including international experts, will also look at how and when more than 1,700 health workers contracted the virus.

What is the first case in Africa?

Egypt’s health ministry on Friday confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in Africa.

The ministry described the person as a foreigner, but did not disclose the nationality.

It said it had notified the WHO, and the patient had been placed in isolation in a hospital.

What is the situation with medical workers?

Chinese officials say six health workers have died, and more than 1,700 have been infected since the outbreak began.

Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, said 1,102 medical workers had been infected in Wuhan and another 400 in other parts of Hubei province.

“The duties of medical workers at the front are indeed extremely heavy; their working and resting circumstances are limited, the psychological pressures are great, and the risk of infection is high,” Mr Zeng said, as quoted by Reuters news agency.

Local authorities have struggled to provide protective equipment such as respiratory masks, goggles and protective suits in hospitals in the area.

On February 7, the plight of medical workers was highlighted by the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital who had tried to issue the first warning about the virus on 30 December.

He had sent out a warning to fellow medics but police told him to stop “making false comments”.

A wave of anger and grief flooded Chinese social media site Weibo when news of Dr Li’s death broke.

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