China's Xi: Efforts to control coronavirus outbreak at crucial stage, Latest World News - The New Paper

China's Xi: Efforts to control coronavirus outbreak at crucial stage

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Chinese President says government must report information in timely manner, curb rumours

BEIJING: China's efforts to control a coronavirus outbreak are at a crucial stage and the authorities must prevent the epidemic from spreading, Xinhua news agency quoted President Xi Jinping as saying yesterday.

The government must report outbreak information accurately in a timely manner and will crack down on virus-related rumour-mongering, Mr Xi said.

He also said the government would ensure donated goods would be fully used in virus controls.

The number of people infected in China jumped to more than 24,000 and millions more were ordered to stay indoors.

Hardest-hit Hubei province reported 65 more people had died, bringing up the death toll to at least 490 in China.

Separately, global health experts said the world has a "window of opportunity" to halt the spread of a deadly new virus.

More than 20 countries have confirmed cases, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, several governments to institute travel restrictions and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.

But the WHO said on Tuesday that dramatic measures taken by China offered a chance to halt transmission.

"While 99 per cent of cases are in China, in the rest of the world we only have 176 cases," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"That doesn't mean that it won't get worse. But for sure we have a window of opportunity to act," he said.


Mr Ghebreyesus accused wealthy countries of falling short on their duties in sharing data.

"Of the 176 cases reported outside China so far, WHO has received complete case report forms for only 38 per cent," he said.

The WHO also played down media reports yesterday of "breakthrough" drugs being discovered to treat people infected with the new virus.

A Chinese TV report said researchers at Zhejiang University had found an effective drug for the virus, while Britain's Sky News said researchers had made a "significant breakthrough" in developing a vaccine.

Oil prices jumped on the reports.

Asked about the reports, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said: "There are no known effective therapeutics against this (virus) and the WHO recommends enrolment into a randomised controlled trial to test efficacy and safety."

The process of developing and testing drugs or vaccines against a new pathogen normally takes many years and is often fraught with pitfalls and failures.

In a separate development, Chinese tourists in Bali have found that they cannot get back home.

Thousands risk being stranded after the Indonesian government suspended flights to and from mainland China.

At least 5,000 Chinese tourists are currently on the holiday island, according to Chinese consul general in Denpasar, Mr Gou Haodong. - AFP, REUTERS