Coronavirus: Residents 'welded' inside their own homes in China

2 February 2020, 22:58

Social media footage appears to show residents being sealed inside their own homes
Social media footage appears to show residents being sealed inside their own homes. Picture: Twitter

By Asher McShane

People in China are being sealed inside their own homes as part of desperate steps to try and contain the spread of coronavirus.

The first death from the disease outside China was confirmed today after a man died in the Philippines.

Eleven more British nationals are reportedly arriving in the UK from Wuhan later today missing the first evacuation flight on Thursday.

The second raft of evacuees from the coronavirus-stricken city is being flown into the UK via France.

Meanwhile shocking videos have been shared on social media in China showing residents being barricaded inside their own homes by groups of people using wooden boards and nails to keep their doors shut and prevent them from leaving.

In one shocking video a metal bar appears to have been welded across a resident’s front door with gap wide enough that food can be handed to residents, but too small for them to leave.

One person shared footage online writing: “Two videos show all floors of a residential building in Jiangsu-China were blocked by welding fence because a confirmed case found in it.”

Another person said residents were being imprisoned in their own homes “by the police,” sharing several videos of workmen sealing up doors with warning signs next to them.

A Chinese national living in London told LBC News: "It's just they have to make sure they are not really sick in the next two weeks. Some places people just little bit radical but it's for the good."

The overall death toll from the disease has risen above 300 and the number of confirmed cases of infection has increased to more than 14,000.

A 44-year-old man from Wuhan, the province where the outbreak is believed to have originated, was admitted to a Manila hospital on January 25 with a fever, cough and a sore throat, the Philippine Department of Health said in a statement.

He developed severe pneumonia but "showed signs of improvement" in the days before his death, and the 38-year-old woman he was with has tested positive for the virus and remains in hospital isolation.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved a temporary ban on all travellers, except Filipinos, from China and its autonomous regions.

The death follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling on governments to prepare for "domestic outbreak control" if the virus spreads in their countries.

Beijing has criticised Washington's order barring entry to the US to most foreigners who visited China in the past two weeks.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced similar measures on Saturday, following Japan and Singapore.

Meanwhile, South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan, the city at the centre of an area where some 50 million people are prevented from leaving in a sweeping anti-virus effort. The evacuees went into a two-week quarantine. Indonesia also sent a plane.

The number of confirmed cases in China has surpassed the number in the 2002-03 outbreak of Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

The virus's rapid spread in two months prompted the WHO to declare it a global emergency on Thursday.

That declaration "flipped the switch" from a cautious attitude earlier to recommending governments prepare for the possibility the virus might spread, said WHO's representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea.

Most cases reported so far have been people who visited China or their family members.

The agency acted out of concern for poorer countries that might not be equipped to respond, said Mr Galea. Such a declaration calls for a co-ordinated international response and can bring more money and resources.

The WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases abroad involved human-to-human transmission.

Among a growing number of airlines suspending flights to mainland China was Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based carrier said on its website that its flights would stop on Monday.

It blamed "significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by a number of countries" for the suspension of flights.

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