China extends holiday, businesses shut as virus toll rises to 81: Page 2 of 2

‘MORE OF A CHALLENGE’

Last week, the WHO stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can contain the epidemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had arrived in China and would meet officials working on the response, his agency said.

Wendy Barclay, a professor and virologist at Imperial College London, said many of the respiratory viruses that spread among humans do transmit even in the absence of symptoms, and it would not be surprising if the new coronavirus also did.

“If this does prove to be the case then controlling the spread does become more of a challenge, and measures like airport screening are unlikely to stem the virus effectively,” she said.

Australia confirmed its fifth case on Monday involving a woman on the last flight out of Wuhan to Sydney before China’s travel ban.

Several Western countries including the United States and Australia, are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.

Images on social media showed hospital corridors packed with people seeking treatment.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers from China, although some health experts have questioned its effectiveness.

Last week the WHO stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can contain the epidemic.

Some of China’s biggest companies have been affected, with hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao International Holding shutting branches nationwide from Sunday until Friday.

Gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd advised staff to work from home until Feb. 7, and e-commerce firm Alibaba removed vendors’ offers of overpriced face masks from its online Taobao marketplace as prices surged.[mr/reuters]

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