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Lockdowns

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As of 14 March, apart from mainland China, the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic had spread to many other countries around the world, with the most affected being South Korea, Italy, and Iran. National response measures have included containment measures such as lockdowns, quarantines, and curfews.[1] As of 18 March, more than 250 million people are in lockdown in Europe. [2]


By country

China

Infrared cameras were installed in Wuhan railway station to check passengers' body temperature before they board the trains.
'Aerial photography of roads after motor vehicles are banned in central urban areas of Wuhan: few vehicle traces' – Video news from China News Service
Masked passengers undergoing temperature checks at Changchun Longjia Airport in northeast China
Hong Kong residents queueing to refund their bullet train tickets to the mainland in West Kowloon railway station

The first person known to have fallen ill due to the new virus was in Wuhan on 1 December 2019.[3] A public notice on the outbreak was released by Wuhan health authority on 31 December; the initial notice informed Wuhan residents that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus, that the disease is preventable and controllable, and that people can wear masks when going out.[4] WHO was informed of the outbreak on the same day.[5]

On 7 January 2020, the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee discussed novel coronavirus prevention and control.[6][7]

On 20 January, Zhong Nanshan, a scientist at China's National Health Commission who played a prominent role in the SARS epidemic, declared its potential for human-to-human transmission, after two cases emerged in Guangdong of infection by family members who had visited Wuhan.[8] This was later confirmed by the Wuhan government, which announced a number of new measures such as cancelling the Chinese New Year celebrations, in addition to measures such as checking the temperature of passengers at transport terminals first introduced on 14 January.[9] A quarantine was announced on 23 January 2020 stopping travel in and out of Wuhan.[10]

On 25 January, Chinese authorities banned the use of private vehicles in Wuhan. Only vehicles that are transporting critical supplies or emergency response vehicles are allowed to move within the city.[11]

On 26 January, a leading group tasked with the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak was established, led by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.[12][13] The leading group decided to extend the Spring Festival holiday to contain the outbreak.[14]

China Customs started requiring that all passengers entering and exiting China fill in an extra health declaration form from 26 January. The health declaration form was mentioned in China's Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, granting the customs rights to require it if needed.[15][16][17]

On 27 January, the General Office of the State Council of China, one of the top governing bodies of the People's Republic, officially declared a nation-wide extension on the New Year holiday and the postponement of the coming spring semester. The office extended the previously scheduled public holiday from 30 January, to 2 February, while it said school openings for the spring semester would be announced in the future.[18] Some universities with open campuses also banned the public from visiting.[19] On 23 January, the education department in Hunan, which neighbours the centre of the outbreak Hubei province, stated it would strictly ban off-school tutors and restrict student gatherings.[20] Education departments in Shanghai and Shenzhen also imposed bans on off-school tutoring and requested that schools track and report students who had been to Wuhan or Hubei province during the winter break.[21][22] The semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau also announced adjustments on schooling schedules. Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared an emergency at a press conference on 25 January, saying the government would close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks on top of the previously scheduled New Year holiday, pushing the date for school reopening to 17 February.[23][24] Macau closed several museums and libraries, and prolonged the New Year holiday break to 11 February for higher education institutions and 10 February for others.[25] The University of Macau said they would track the physical conditions of students who have been to Wuhan during the New Year break.[26]

After the Chinese New Year on 25 January, there would be another peak of people travelling back from their home towns to workplaces as a part of Chunyun. Several provinces and cities encouraged people to stay in their hometowns and not travel back. Eastern China's Suzhou also encouraged remote working via the Internet and further prolonged the spring festival break.[27]

The Civil Aviation Administration of China and the China State Railway Group, which regulate China's civil aviation and operates rail services, announced on 24 January that passengers could have full refunds for their plane and train tickets without any surcharges, regardless of whether their flight or train will go through Wuhan or not.[28][29] China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism ordered travel agencies and online tourism firms to suspend package tours and stop offering "flight+hotel" bundles.[27][30]

Additional provinces and cities outside Hubei imposed travel restrictions. Beijing suspended all intercity bus services on 25 January,[31] with several others following suit.[27]

A screen display in Hefei showing "early detection, early reporting, early quarantine, early diagnosis, early treatment" during the coronavirus outbreak

On 1 February 2020, Xinhua News reported that China's Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) has "asked procuratorates nationwide to fully play their role to create a favourable judicial environment in the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak." This includes severe punishments for those found guilty of dereliction of duty and the withholding of information for officials. Tougher charges were proscribed for commercial criminal activities such as "the pushing up of prices, profiteering and severely disturbing market order" along with the "production and sale of fake and shoddy protective equipment and medicines." Prosecuting actions against patients who deliberately spread the infection or refuse examination or compulsory isolation along with threats of violence against medical personnel were also urged. The statement also included urging to prosecute those found "fabricating coronavirus-related information that may lead to panic among the public, making up and spreading rumours about the virus, sabotaging the implementation of the law and endangering public security" and also stressed "harshly punishing the illegal hunting of wildlife under state protection, as well as improving inspection and quarantine measures for fresh food and meat products."[32]

Museums throughout China are temporarily closed.[33][34] The National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) asked museums around the country to move their exhibits and galleries temporarily online[35] via a program that the NCHA is launching.[33][36]

Quarantine

Cities under quarantine
Place Province Start date End date City level Population Cases Deaths Recoveries
Border shutdown[37]
Wuhan Hubei 2020-01-23 Lockdown[38][39] Sub-provincial 11,081,000 50,005 2,490 40,032
Xiaogan Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 4,920,000 3,518 128 3,297
Huanggang Hubei 2020-01-23 Prefectural 6,330,000 2,907 125 2,782
Jingzhou Hubei 2020-01-24 2020-03-17[40] Prefectural 5,590,200 1,580 50 1,499
Ezhou Hubei 2020-01-23 Prefectural 1,077,700 1,394 57 1,290
Suizhou Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 2,216,700 1,307 45 1,222
Xiangyang Hubei 2020-01-28[41] Prefectural 5,669,000 1,175 38 1,131
Huangshi Hubei 2020-01-24 2020-03-13[42] Prefectural 2,470,700 1,015 38 963
Yichang Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 4,135,850 931 36 881
Jingmen Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 2,896,500 928 39 870
Xianning Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 2,543,300 836 15 821
Shiyan Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 3,406,000 672 8 645
Xiantao Hubei 2020-01-24 Sub-prefectural 1,140,500 575 22 535
Tianmen Hubei 2020-01-24 Sub-prefectural 1,272,300 496 15 478
Enshi Hubei 2020-01-24 Prefectural 3,378,000 252 7 245
Qianjiang Hubei 2020-01-24 2020-03-13[43] Sub-prefectural 966,000 198 9 184
Shennongjia Hubei 2020-01-27 Sub-prefectural 78,912 11 0 11
Quarantine total 59,172,000 67,800 3,122 56,886
Outbreak ongoing: Infection and fatality data as of 24:00 (UTC+8) March 17 2020.[44][45] Totals will evolve.

On 23 January 2020, a quarantine on travel in and out of Wuhan was imposed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus out of Wuhan. Flights, trains, public buses, the metro system, and long-distance coaches were suspended indefinitely. Large-scale gatherings and group tours were also suspended.[10] By 24 January 2020, a total of 15 cities in Hubei, including Wuhan, were placed under similar quarantine measures.[46] On 27 and 28 January 2020, Xiangyang closed its railway stations and suspended all ferry operations, after shutting down its airport and intercity bus services earlier. Thus, the entire Hubei province entered a city-by-city quarantine, save for the Shennongjia Forestry District.[citation needed]

Before the quarantine began, some in Wuhan questioned the reliability of the figures from the Chinese government as well as the government response, with some calling for quarantine,[47] and a post also showed sick people and three dead bodies covered in white sheets on the floor of a hospital on 24 January, although many such posts in Weibo about the epidemic have since been deleted.[48][49]

Due to quarantine measures, Wuhan residents rushed to stockpile essential goods, food, and fuel; prices rose significantly.[50][51] 5,000,000 people left Wuhan, with 9,000,000 left in the city.[52]

On 26 January, the city of Shantou in Guangdong declared a partial lockdown,[53] though this was reversed two hours later.[54] Residents had rushed to supermarkets to stock food as soon as the lockdown was declared, until the authorities reversed their decision. Caixin said, that the wording of Shantou's initial declaration was "unprecedentedly strict" and will severely affect residents' lives, if implemented as-is. Shantou's Department for Outbreak Control later clarified that it would not restrict travelling, but would sterilise vehicles used for transportation.[55]

Local authorities in Beijing and several other major cities, including Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, announced on 26 January, that these cities will not impose a lockdown similar to those in Hubei province. Rumours of these potential lockdowns had spread widely prior to the official announcements.[56] A spokesperson of Beijing's Municipal Transportation Commission claimed that the expressways, highways, subways, and buses were operating normally. To ease the residents' panic, the Hangzhou city government stressed that the city would not be locked down from the outside world, and both cities said that they would introduce precautions against potential risks.[57]

On 2 February 2020, the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang also implemented a partial lockdown, closing 46 of the 54 highway checkpoints.[58]

On 4 February 2020, two more cities in Zhejiang province restricted the movement of residents. The city of Taizhou, three Hangzhou districts, and some in Ningbo began to only allow one person per household to go outside every two days to buy necessities, city officials said. More than 12 million people are affected by the new restrictions.[59]

By 6 February 2020, a total of four Zhejiang cities—Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Taizhou—were under the "passport" system, allowing only one person per household to leave their home every two days. These restrictions apply to over 30 million people.[60]

Outside mainland China, some cruise ships were quarantined after passengers developed symptoms or tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The Costa Smeralda was quarantined on 30 January off Civitavecchia in Italy, after passengers developed flu-like symptoms – the quarantine was lifted when tests for the virus came back negative.[61] Two further ships were quarantined on 5 February: Diamond Princess in the Port of Yokohama, Japan and World Dream, which returned to Hong Kong after being refused entry to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In both cases, passengers and crew tested positive.[62][63][64][65] On 10 February passengers were allowed to disembark the World Dream "without the need to self-quarantine after leaving."[66] The Diamond Princess remains quarantined with 136 confirmed cases as of 10 February.[67] Although the quarantine has not been completely lifted, around 500 passengers that were not diagnosed with the virus were allowed to leave on 19 February 2020.[68] Although not quarantined MS Westerdam has been refused entry by several ports after departing Hong Kong on 1 February.[69]

Outdoor restrictions

On 1 February, Huanggang, Hubei implemented a measure whereby only one person from each household is permitted to go outside for provisions once every two days, except for medical reasons or to work at shops or pharmacies.[70]

Speciality hospitals

Jinyintan Hospital had initially been tasked with treating those with the coronavirus.
Construction site of Huoshenshan Hospital as it appeared on 24 January

A speciality hospital named Huoshenshan Hospital has been constructed as a countermeasure against the outbreak and to better quarantine the patients. Wuhan City government had demanded that a state-owned enterprise construct such a hospital "at the fastest speed" comparable to that of the SARS outbreak in 2003.[104] On 24 January, Wuhan authorities specified its planning, saying they planned to have Huoshenshan Hospital built within six days of the announcement and it will be ready to use on 3 February. Upon opening, the speciality hospital has 1,000 beds[105] and takes up 30,000 square metres. The hospital is modelled after the Xiaotangshan Hospital [zh], which was fabricated for the SARS outbreak of 2003, itself built in only seven days.[106][107] State media reported that there were 7,000 workers and nearly 300 units of construction machinery on the site at peak.[108]

On 24 January 2020, the authority announced that they would convert an empty building in Huangzhou District, Huanggang to a 1,000-bed hospital named Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre. Works began the next day by 500 personnel and the building began accepting patients on 28 January 2020 at 10:30 pm.[109] In Wuhan, authorities have seized dormitories, offices and hospitals to create more beds for patients.[110] On 25 January authorities announced plans for Leishenshan Hospital, a second speciality hospital, with a capacity of 1,600 beds;[111] operations are scheduled to start by 6 February.[112][113] Some people voiced their concerns through social media services, saying the authorities' decision to build yet another hospital in such little time showed the severity of the outbreak could be a lot worse than expected.[114] The hospital opened on 8 February.[115]

14 temporary hospitals were constructed in China in total, but all were reported to have closed after the crisis was determined be under control on 10 March 2020.[116]

Interprovincial medical aid

As of 16 February 2020, 217 teams of a total of 25,633 medical workers from across China went to Wuhan and other cities in Hubei to help open up more facilities and treat patients.[117]

Censorship and police responses

Document issued by the Wuhan Police ordering Li Wenliang to stop "spreading rumours" about a possible 'SARS virus' dated 3 January.

The early response by city authorities was criticised as prioritising a control of information that might be unfavorable for local officials over public safety, and China was also criticised for cover-ups and downplaying the initial discovery and severity of the outbreak. By the time China had informed the WHO of the new coronavirus on 31 December 2019, The New York Times reported that the government was still keeping "its own citizens in the dark".[118][119] Observers have attributed this to the censorship institutional structure of the country's press and Internet, exacerbated by China's paramount leader Xi Jinping's crackdown on independent oversight such as journalism and social media that left senior officials with inaccurate information on the outbreak and "contributed to a prolonged period of inaction that allowed the virus to spread".[118][119][120][121] The Human Rights Watch also noted censorship by the authorities of social media posts from families of infected people who were potentially seeking help as well as by people living in cordoned cities who were documenting their daily lives amidst the lockdown.[122]

A group of eight medical personnel, including Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist from Wuhan Central Hospital who in late December posted warnings on a new coronavirus strain akin to SARS, were taken into custody by Wuhan police and threatened with prosecution for "spreading rumours" for likening it to SARS.[123][124] Li Wenliang later died of the disease on 7 February, and was widely hailed as a whistleblower in China, but some of the trending hashtags on Weibo such as "Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology" and "We want freedom of speech" were blocked.[125][126][127] His death widespread public anger in the aftermath, in what has been described as "one of the biggest outpourings of online criticism of the government in years," was not a topic that was permitted for coverage.[128] One media outlet sent notices to editors, and leaked to reporters, asking them to refrain from "commenting or speculating" and giving instructions to "not hashtag and let the topic gradually die out from the hot search list, and guard against harmful information."[129][130]

On 20 January, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping made his first public remark on the outbreak and spoke of "the need for the timely release of information".[131] One day later, the CPC Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the most powerful political organ in China overseeing legal enforcement and the police, wrote "self-deception will only make the epidemic worse and turn a natural disaster that was controllable into a man-made disaster at great cost," and "only openness can minimise panic to the greatest extent." The commission then added, "anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of cases out of self-interest will be nailed on a pillar of shame for eternity."[132][133] Xi Jinping later also instructed authorities "to strengthen the guidance of public opinions", language which some view as a call for censorship after commentators on social media became increasingly pointedly critical and angry at the government due to the epidemic.[134] on 30 January, China's Supreme Court, delivered a rare rebuke against the country's police forces, calling the "unreasonably harsh crackdown on online rumours" as undermining public trust. The supreme court judge Tang Xinghua said that if police had been lenient against rumours and allowed the public to have taken heed of them, an earlier adoption of "measures like wearing masks, strictly disinfecting and avoiding wildlife markets" might have been useful in countering the spread of the epidemic.[135]

As part of the central government's "bifurcated approach to diffuse discontent", citizens were permitted to criticise local officials so long as they did not "question the basic legitimacy of the party".[136] The Cyberspace Administration (CAC) declared its intent to foster a "good online atmosphere," with CAC notices sent to video platforms encouraging them to "not to push any negative story, and not to conduct non-official livestreaming on the virus."[137] Censorship has been observed being applied on news articles and social media posts deemed to hold negative tones about the coronavirus and the governmental response, including posts mocking Xi Jinping for not visiting areas of the epidemic,[138] an article that predicted negative effects of the epidemic on the economy, and calls to remove local government officials.[121][125][139][140] While censorship had been briefly relaxed giving a "window of about two weeks in which Chinese journalists were able to publish hard-hitting stories exposing the mishandling of the novel coronavirus by officials", since then private news outlets were reportedly required to use "planned and controlled publicity" with the authorities' consent.[125][141]

Approval of Chinese responses

On 29 January, President Trump received a briefing on the coronavirus in China.

China's response to the virus, in comparison to the 2003 SARS outbreak, has been praised by some foreign leaders.[142] U.S. President Trump thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping "on behalf of the American People" on 24 January on Twitter, stating that "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency" and declaring that "It will all work out well."[143] Germany's health minister Jens Spahn, in an interview on Bloomberg TV, said with comparison to the Chinese response to SARS in 2003: "There's a big difference to SARS. We have a much more transparent China. The action of China is much more effective in the first days already." He also praised the international co-operation and communication in dealing with the virus.<[144][145] In a letter to Xi, Singaporean president Halimah Yacob applauded China's "swift, decisive and comprehensive measures" in safeguarding the health of the Chinese people, while prime minister Lee Hsien Loong remarked of "China's firm and decisive response" in communities affected by the virus.[146] Similar sentiments were expressed by Russian president Vladimir Putin.[147]

At a Sunday mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on 26 January, Pope Francis praised "the great commitment by the Chinese community that has already been put in place to combat the epidemic" and commenced a closing prayer for "the people who are sick because of the virus that has spread through China".[148]

Italy

Civil Protection volunteers carrying out health checks at the Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna

The outbreak was confirmed to have spread to Italy on 31 January 2020, when two Chinese tourists tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Rome.[149] In response, the Italian government suspended all flights to and from China and declared a state of emergency, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stating that Italy is the first EU country to take this precautionary measure.[150] On 31 January, the Italian Council of Ministers appointed Angelo Borrelli, head of the Civil Protection, as Special Commissioner for the COVID-19 Emergency.[151][152] A unassociated cluster of COVID-19 cases was later further detected starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy on 21 February,[153] an additional 60 cases on 22 February, and Italy's first deaths reported on the same day.[citation needed]

The Ministry of Health announced new guidelines for reporting cases on 27 February in response to the previous blanket testing that caused case numbers to surge and inflamed public panic.[154] It would no longer report asymptomatic cases (swabs taken from patients which tested positive but were not showing symptoms) which counted as 40 to 50% of all reported cases at the time. These people would undergo isolation at home and would be followed up with new tests until they were negative.[155][156]

On 22 February, the Italian Council of Ministers announced a new decree law to contain the outbreak, including quarantining more than 50,000 people from 11 different municipalities in northern Italy.[157] Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said "In the outbreak areas, entry and exit will not be provided. Suspension of work activities and sport events has already been ordered in those areas."[158][159] Punishments for violating of the lockdown range from a fine of 206 euros to 3 months imprisonment.[160] Italian military and law enforcement agencies were instructed to secure and implement the lockdown.[161]

On 3 March, Chinese authorities reported that on March first and second, eight virus victims who had returned to the county of Qingtian, in East China's Zhejiang province, were suffering from the virus. All eight appear to have acquired Covid-19 in the northern town of Bergamo, Italy, a virus-ravaged municipality, where they had worked at a restaurant, Qingtian officials said. Chinese authorities called these "backflow cases" — virus carriers who contract the disease outside China, then bring it back to their homeland.[162]

On 4 March, the Italian government ordered the full closure of all schools and universities nationwide as Italy reached 100 deaths. Additionally, all major sporting events, including Serie A football matches, would be held behind closed doors until April.[163] On 9 March, all sport was suspended completely for at least one month.[164]

Quarantines

The front page of the newspaper La Repubblica, reading "Tutti a casa" ("Everybody (stay) in your homes), hung in a Bologna street the first day (10 March 2020) of the nation-spread lockdown in Italy

On 21 February, at least ten towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, with a total population of 50,000, were locked down in quarantine procedure following an outbreak in Codogno in Lombardy. Police mandated a curfew closing all public buildings and controlling access through police checkpoints to the so-called 'red zone' which is enforced by penalties for violations ranging from a €206 fine to three months of imprisonment against trespassers who are not health or supply workers.[160] The government of Giuseppe Conte said that sending in the armed forces to enforce the lockdown was a possibility.[161] The governor of Basilicata, Vito Bardi, instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving from areas in northern Italy affected by the outbreak on 24 February.[165] On the same day, 500 extra police officers were assigned to patrol the quarantined areas in Lodi and Veneto.[165]

On the morning of 8 March 2020, Conte said that much of Italy's northern territories, including Milan and Venice, would be quarantined within their region.[166] Conte said the country was locking down all of the populous Lombardy region, with movement restrictions applying to about 16 million people.[167] This will be the most aggressive response taken in any region beyond China, and will paralyse the wealthiest parts of the country as Italy attempts to constrain the rapid spread of the disease.[167] On 8 March 2020, there have been 7,375 confirmed cases, and 366 deaths in Italy.[168]

On the evening of 9 March 2020, the quarantine was expanded to all of Italy.[169]

South Korea

The first confirmed case of the coronavirus was identified with a 35-year-old Chinese woman on 20 January. The first South Korean national to be infected occurred three days later was a 55-year-old man who worked in Wuhan and returned for a checkup with flu symptoms. The two infection reports were publicly released on 24 January. The sixth patient was the first case in South Korea who had never visited Wuhan. The 56-year-old man caught the virus when visiting a restaurant with the third patient.[citation needed]

Coronavirus infection prevention tips banner in Seoul, South Korea

A woman, who had returned from Thailand after a five-day vacation, was tested positive and confirmed as the sixteenth case on 4 February.[170] Three more cases were confirmed on 5 February, bringing the total case count to 19. The seventeenth and nineteenth patients had attended a conference in Singapore and been in contact with an infected person there.[171] The very same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea (KCDC) announced that the second patient had been released from hospital after being tested negative in consecutive tests, becoming the country's first coronavirus patient to fully recover.[172]

On 19 February, the number of confirmed cases increased by 20. On 20 February 70 new cases were confirmed,[173] giving a total of 104 confirmed cases, according to the KCDC. According to Reuters, KCDC attributed the sudden jump to 70 cases linked to "Patient No. 31", who had participated in a gathering in Daegu at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.[173]

On 20 February, the streets of Daegu were empty in reaction to the Shincheonji outbreak. A resident described the reaction, stating "It's like someone dropped a bomb in the middle of the city. It looks like a zombie apocalypse."[173] The first death was reported[174] in a mental ward of Cheongdo Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo County. According to the mayor of Daegu, the number of suspected cases as of 21 February was 544 among 4,400 examined followers of the church.[175] The hospital was suspected as the source of the present outbreak after it was visited by a woman who became the second fatal case of Korea on that day. The infection spread outside via a funeral ceremony attended by members of the church.[176][177]

All South Korean military bases were on lockdown after tests confirmed that three soldiers were indeed positive for the virus.[176] Airlines cut connections and cultural schedules were being cancelled due to fears of further spread.[178][179] United States Forces Korea raised the alert level from low to moderate and cut off non-essential travel to and from USFK Daegu.[180] USFK Daegu's school facilities were closed and non-essential personnel were ordered to stay at home while any visitors going there were not allowed to enter.[180] USFK announced that the widow of a retired soldier who was in Daegu was diagnosed to be positive for the virus on 24 February.[181] Camp Humphreys enacted virus detection protocols, including temperature checks and raised the alert level to high.[182] On 26 February, an American soldier based at Camp Carroll was diagnosed to be positive and was quarantined away from bases via off-base housing unit[183] with contact tracing done that showed his movements to Camp Walker.[184]

As of 22 February, among 9,336 followers of the church, 1,261 reported symptoms.[185] At the time, 169 confirmed cases involved the church and another 111 came from the Cheongdo Daenam Hospital.[186] 23 February saw another 123 cases with 75 being from Shincheonji[187] and 24 February saw 161 additional cases with 129 being from the religious group. Over 27,000 people have been tested for the virus with 19,127 negative results.[188]

On 24 February 15 countries imposed travel restrictions to and from South Korea.[189] It was also reported that a senior health official overseeing the COVID-19 efforts in Daegu tested positive and was also a member of Shincheonji.[190][191] Within a few days, a petition to the nation's president urging for the disbandment of the church had over 750,000 signatures. Their headquarters in Gwacheon was raided by law enforcement; government officials said all 245,000 members of the religious group would be found and tested.[191] On 28 February, over 2,000 confirmed cases were reported,[192] rising to 3,150 on 29 February.[193]

North Korea

North Korea officially denies any infection within its borders, but news reports estimate at least 180-200 deaths among the army alone, not counting those among the civilian population. There is no estimate of those merely infected. Army commanders are punished for any deaths in the ranks.[194]

Iran

Disinfection of Tehran subway wagons against coronavirus

Iran reported its first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections on 19 February 2020 in Qom, where according to the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, both had died later that day.[195][196]

Early measures announced by the government included the cancellation of concerts and other cultural events,[197] sporting events,[198] and Friday prayers,[199] closure of universities, higher education institutions and schools,[200] and allocated 5 trillion rials to combat the virus.[201] President Hassan Rouhani said on 26 February 2020 that there were no plans to quarantine areas affected by the outbreak, and only individuals would be quarantined.[202] However, Shia shrines in Qom remained open to pilgrims.[203]

Iran became a center of the spread of the virus after China.[204][205] Amidst claims of a cover-up of the extent of the outbreak in the country,[206] over ten countries have traced their cases back to Iran, indicating that the extent of the outbreak may be more severe than that admitted by the Iranian government.[205][207] The Iranian Parliament was shut down, with 23 of the 290 members of parliament reported to have had tested positive for the virus on 3 March.[208] A number of senior government officials as well as two members of parliament have died from the disease.[209]

France

On 24 January 2020, the first case of COVID-19 in France was confirmed in Bordeaux.[210]

Spain

On 31 January 2020, the first case was confirmed when a tourist tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in La Gomera, Spain.[211] On 14 March, due to the increased number of cases, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a state of alarm, placing all citizens in quarantine except for those working in healthcare or other vital activities, closing all non-critical businesses, and only allowing citizens to go outside for activities such as grocery shopping or walking a pet.[212]

Germany

On 27 January 2020, the first COVID-19 case was positively confirmed in Bavaria in Germany.[213]

United States

On 31 January 2020, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation limiting entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the People's Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.[214]

In the Pacific Northwest state of Washington, the first six confirmed deaths in the United States were reported in late February 2020, with two deaths and an outbreak at a Life Care Centers of America elderly care in Kirkland, Washington, affecting residents, staff, firefighters, and nursing students.[215][216] Washington governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on 28 February after a man there died of COVID-19, the first such reported death in the United States. Florida governor Ron DeSantis also declared a state of emergency.[217][218][219] On 4 March, California governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after the first death within state borders, in addition to 53 confirmed cases within the state.[220]

Major US corporations have imposed employee travel restrictions. Twitter "suspend[ed] all non-critical business travel and events". Facebook cancelled its F8 developer conference. Goldman Sachs cancelled all "non-essential" travel and put in place specific restrictions on travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Amazon, who confirmed an employee in the Seattle area tested positive for COVID-19,[221] banned nonessential employee travel. Nike closed its Oregon headquarters and its European headquarters in Amsterdam "out of an abundance of caution". As required by regulation, large American banks are reviewing emergency plans to ensure that they can continue to operate if conditions worsen; contingency plans include having employees work from their homes, transferring staff to backup offices and even sending staff to offices in other cities.[222] Some companies, including Microsoft, GitHub, and Square, Inc., have also encouraged employees to work from home.[223]

Over a dozen schools in the Seattle area cancelled classes on 3 March for disinfection and other precautionary measures.[224] On 6 March, the University of Washington cancelled in-person classes. The Seattle-based university is home to 50,000 students.[225] Multiple public and private schools outside New York City have closed as a result of the virus, including the Westchester County public school districts of Hastings-on-Hudson and Mount Vernon.[226] All schools within the Elk Grove Unified School District in the Sacramento area shut down on 7 March after a case of the virus appeared in Elk Grove.[227]

By 8 March 2020, the number of deaths in the US had risen to 22, with over 500 cases reported.[228]

Some Americans seem resentful at being asked to worry, and believe that COVID-19 appears no worse than the flu.[229]

Japan

On 27 February 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools close until early April to help contain the virus.[230]

The outbreak has been a concern for the 2020 Summer Olympics which is scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting at the end of July.[231] The Japanese government has thus been taking extra precautions to help minimise the outbreak's impact.[232]

Switzerland

On 28 February, Switzerland's Federal Council announced an immediate ban on all public and private events involving more than 1000 participants.[233]

Philippines

The first COVID-19 death outside China occurred in the Philippines on 21 January[234]. As of March 14, 2020, the number of confirmed cases in the country was 64[235].

On March 9, 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte suspended classes in all levels in Metro Manila from 10 to 15 March[236].

The class suspension in Metro Manila was extended to April 12, 2020, following the decision of concerned authorities to raise the COVID-19 alert level in the country to Code Red Sublevel 2. Work in the executive branch of the government was also suspended for the same period as part of the Stringent Social Distancing Measures in the National Capital Region (NCR)[237], with the directive for the concerned government agencies to form skeletal forces to ensure the delivery of basic services. Congress and the Judiciary were encouraged to do the same. Agencies providing law enforcement services, health services, and emergency services were enjoined to continue to operate at full capacity.

Other salient directives, contained in a resolution adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and announced by the Philippine President on March 12, 2020 at the Heroes Hall in Malacañan Palace[238], include:

  1. the prohibition of mass gatherings that could strain the resources of the host community,
  2. the imposition of community quarantine over Metro Manila, with guidelines issued to Local Government Units outside Metro Manila for the imposition of community quarantine in their respective localities,
  3. encouragement of flexible work arrangements for the private sector, subject to guidelines from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment,
  4. the continued operation of mass public transport within Metro Manila (such as LRT, MRT, and PNR), as well as of manufacturing, retail and service establishments, but with the proviso to enforce strict social distancing, and
  5. suspension of land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 12, 2020.

On March 13, 2020, a memorandum containing the guidelines for stringent social distancing measures and the management of COVID-19 in the National Capital Region[239] was issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by order of the president. Among the directives embodied in the memorandum were:

  • suspension of classes and all school activities until April 14, 2020,
  • prohibition of mass gatherings including "movie screenings, concerts, sports events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings."
  • imposition of strict social distancing - at least 1 meter radius between and among attendees - during essential meetings and religious activities, and
  • provisions for alternative and/or flexible work arrangements.

On March 16, the president signed Proclamation No. 929[240] declaring a state of calamity throughout the country for a period of six months, bringing into effect the following:

  • price control of basic needs and commodities,
  • granting of interest-free loans,
  • distribution of calamity funds,
  • authorization of importation and receipt of donations, and
  • hazard allowance for public health workers and government personnel in the fields of science and technology[241].

Luzon

On March 16, President Duterte placed the island of Luzon under "enhanced" community quarantine[242] that further restricted the movement of people through the suspension of mass public transport and the closure of non-essential establishments. Business Process Outsourcing and export-oriented businesses were allowed to continue operation subject to certain conditions. Relevant government agencies were ordered to provide social amelioration measures[243].

San Miguel Corporation subsequently announced that its food, fuel, and power generation facilities would continue operation to provide essential services. Vice-Chairman, President and COO Ramon S. Ang gave assurances of the company's capability to produce sufficient food supplies and its commitment to continue paying its employees[244]. The effects of

Region I - Ilocos Region

As of March 14, 2020, there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Ilocos Region; 10 persons under investigation (PUIs) were admitted, and 25 PUIs were discharged[245].

Province of Ilocos Norte

On March 13, 2020, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc issued Executive Order No. 59-20 which suspended classes in private and public institutions indefinitely and mandated the duties of school officials/administrators and parents/guardians, which included the adoption of and participation in alternative measures for course completion[246]. On March 14, 2020, he signed Executive Order No. 60-20 which placed the province under community quarantine[247]. The order activated Task Force Salun-at, which was previously institutionalized under Executive Order No. 51-20[248]. Under the provisions of Executive Order No. 60-20, Task Force Salun-at was given authority over the province to deny entry to certain individuals based on criteria specified in the order, and enforce checking of individuals seeking entry and required clearance, endorsement, quarantine, and monitoring. The executive order also included provisions for the:

  • regulation of ports and borders;
  • the preparation of health information forms,
  • personal and public preventive measures,
  • identification of quarantine areas,
  • prohibition of hoarding, reselling, and price spikes, and
  • prohibition of the spreading of fake news.
Province of Ilocos Sur

In the northern Philippine province of Ilocos Sur, Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson issued Executive Order No. 12[249] and Executive Order No. 13[250], on March 12 and 13, 2020, respectively. The executive orders mandated the suspension of classes in all levels from March 13 to April 12, 2020, as well as the suspension of other school activities that involve the gathering of crowds, at both public and private schools in the province.

On March 15th, the province was placed under community quarantine through Executive Order No. 14[251] which restricted the movement of people to and from Ilocos Sur, mandated the establishment of checkpoints and conditions for transportation and travel, prohibited social gatherings, encouraged flexible/alternative work arrangements or suspension of work, suspended tourism, prohibited hoarding, delineated rules for business establishments, and imposed curfew.

India

The Indian government airlifted 324 of its citizens from China on 31 January and 1 February via Air India special chartered flights.[252] After Pakistan's refusal to evacuate its students from Wuhan, the Indian government offered to support them with evacuation along with citizens of other neighbouring countries.[253] On 17 February, India announced a special C-17 Globemaster flight carrying medical supplies to support China in Wuhan and evacuating citizens of India and neighbouring countries. India eventually evacuated 647 people including citizens of Maldives and Bangladesh.[254]

On 15 March, after a video conference of SAARC leaders, PM Narendra Modi allocated 74 crore (US$10 million) of funds classified as COVID19 Emergency Fund for the SAARC countries.[255]

As a precautionary measure, India had closed all of its international land borders as of March 16.[256][257]

See also

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