Coronavirus updates

Over 27,000 have been infected with 2019-nCoV, according to official numbers, and 564 have been reported dead. All but 15 reported deaths have been in Hubei Province, and all but two have been in mainland China.

A day after Hong Kong reported its first death from a 2019-nCoV infection, the city has “said that it will begin requiring people who arrive from mainland China to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine,” per the New York Times. Meanwhile, medics in the city continue to strike and call for a complete border closure, the Hong Kong Free Press reports.

Taiwan will begin to deny entry to Chinese nationals beginning on February 6, Focus Taiwan reports, and a 14-day home quarantine will also be mandatory for all arriving passengers.

The U.K. has urged all of its citizens to leave China, a decision that the World Health Organization panned as irrational, per the Guardian:

“Considering China as if the problem was the same in all provinces could be wrong – and it is wrong,” said Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general]. “For instance, 80% of cases in China are in Hubei Province, so that blanket approach may not help.

“We are concerned that all countries make their decisions based on evidence. Even in China there are provinces with very few cases, like other countries in the neighborhood and beyond.”

“We are also encouraging Canadians in China, whose presence is none essential to depart via commercial means,” Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, said, per the National Post.

“What would a no-regrets approach to mitigating 2019-nCoV entail?,” asks Jeremy Konyndyk, a scholar at the Center for Global Development who specializes in humanitarian responses to disasters. His view, in the Washington Post:

It would mean prudent over-preparation, rather than reckless overreaction. Countries should avoid imposing the public health equivalent of “security theater” — sweeping measures that produce more disruption than actual public-health protection. Draconian travel and trade restrictions, for example, might at best briefly delay the inevitable spread but cannot prevent it. Extreme actions such as banning travelers from China (as the United States has just announced) or sealing land borders (as Russia has done) will worsen panic and stigma but provide scant meaningful protection.

Because of Australia’s travel ban, “more than 100,000 Chinese students will not be able to start their university and TAFE classes in Australia,” the Australian ABC reports.

Chinese media has played an active role in muckraking as the crisis has developed, Maria Repnikova writes in the New York Times:

Beyond Caixin — and Caijing, another magazine with a reputation for investigative prowess — other well-respected media outlets, including Xīnjīng Bào 新京报 (Beijing News), Běijīng Qīngnián Bào Shēnyīdù 北京青年报深一度 (Beijing Youth Daily’s investigative reporting unit) and Zhōngguó Qīngnián Bào 中国青年报 (China Youth Daily), and even lifestyle magazines like GQ China, Rénwù 人物 (Portrait Magazine) and Sānlián Shēnghuó Zhōukān 三联生活周刊 (Lifeweek Magazine) have provided in-depth coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

The link Repnikova provides is to a collection of Chinese-language reports on Github, a coding repository that remains uncensored in China.

Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润, the Tsinghua University professor who was suspended a year ago for criticizing the deepening authoritarianism of Xi’s China, has written a new essay about the epidemic crisis. It is available in Chinese on China Digital Times. We will let you know when a full English translation is available.

—Lucas Niewenhuis