As death toll rises, China warns party cadres not to cover-up virus outbreak

WION Web Team Beijing, Beijing, China Jan 21, 2020, 04.05 PM(IST)

wuhan virus Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

China's national health commission said at least 900 people were in hospital after being infected by the virus. 

As the death toll in the coronavirus in China rose to six on Tuesday, the Chinese government warned its Communist party cadre not to cover-up the outbreak of the virus that started in central China even as Taiwan today confirmed the first case of the virus on its soil.

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The central political and legal affairs commission, Beijing’s top political body responsible for law and order issued a strict warning to its workers without mincing words saying that anyone who withheld information would face "severe punishment" and be “nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity”.

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The warning in no uncertain terms said: “Anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millennium to the party and the people."

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The commentary also cited an instruction issued by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday that the virus must be “resolutely contained” and that all cadres must make “the safety of people’s lives and their physical health” the top priority.

The commentary referred to the SARS outbreak as an example, saying delays and a cover-up in reporting the epidemic had hurt the government’s credibility and affected social stability.

Over 700 people were killed around the world by the severe acute respiratory syndrome(SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, which originated in China.

The commentary said: “deceiving ourselves will only make the epidemic worse. It will turn a controllable natural disaster into an extremely costly man-made disaster. Only by making information public can [we] reduce [public] fear. People don’t live in a vacuum and we will only provide a breeding ground for rumours to grow if we keep them in the dark and strip them of their right to know the truth."

Meanwhile, China's national health commission said at least 900 people were in hospital after being infected by the virus. 

The virus which belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as SARS has led several countries to issue health advisories with airport authorities carrying out stringent screening of travellers docking from China, especially Wuhan.

Fears of the virus spreading rapidly have increased with the Chinese New Year approaching on January 25 when people from the mainland travel worldwide to celebrate with the country in a celebratory mood. On Monday, South Korea had confirmed s first case, a 35-year-old Chinese national who had travelled from Wuhan.

Chinese coronavirus
[ A woman wears a mask as she walks past a health warning poster at hospital in Hong Kong, China (Courtesy: Reuters) ]

Two cases were also reported in Thailand and one in Japan as the footprint of the disease began to take a global face. Health authorities in  Philippines said they were probing a potential case of the SARS-like virus after a child was suspected of carrying the virus, however, it hasn't been confirmed yet.

China's National Health Commission had confirmed on Monday that the virus

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Coronavirus Indonesia
[ Indonesian health quarantine officers wait for passengers at thermal screening point (Courtesy: Reuters) ]

The rapid spread of the virus hit the Asian stock market on Tuesday with experts fearful of the new virus taking the shape of the 2002-2003 SARS which killed several hundred people in China. Airlines stock were the worst hit with Cathay Pacific and Air China stocks plunging on Tuesday.

The Hang Seng Index sank 2.8 per cent amid the spread of the new virus. However, pharmaceutical and mask makers shares rose in China as the country grapples with the new virus.