Beijing authorities have announced that people returning to the capital from other parts of the country must quarantine themselves at home or designated centres for 14 days to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
State media said those who refuse to follow the new rule will be punished.
The move came after the National Heath commission revealed that 1,700 medical workers had been infected with the disease and that six had died, saying it was highly concerned by the situation.
This was echoed by the World Health Organisation. Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more information was needed on when the workers were infected and under what circumstances.
Transmissions to front-line health workers can signal problems in infection control policies or that a disease is becoming more easily transmissible.
The total number of cases rose to 63,851, an increase of 5,090 from a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission. The death toll stood at 1,380, up 121. But the situation has been complicated by a change in the way Hubei officials report infections, using clinical diagnosis rather than waiting for laboratory confirmation.
Still, the WHO continued to report lower numbers, standing by the way cases were counted before Hubei’s shift. But it pressed for more details on the change in tabulation.
Tedros said: “We’re seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnoses are being made to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the CovidD-19 data.”
China has come under intense criticism within the country for its response to the crisis and has been the target of complaints from elsewhere too. But the WHO’s chief of emergencies, Dr Michael Ryan, defended its handling of the outbreak and its cooperation with others.
“From our perspective, we have a government that’s cooperating with us, that’s inviting in international experts, that’s shared sequences with the world, that continues to engage with the outside community,” he said.
The vast majority of cases are in China but reverberations from the outbreak were felt around the world, with hundreds of infections reported elsewhere. (AP, RTHK staff)
Beijing orders 14-day quarantine of all returnees
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