Blinds down, empty streets: virus-stricken Wuhan becomes ghost town

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020   •   438

Streets in China’s Wuhan were deserted on Thursday (February 20) after nearly a month in lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak that has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.

Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been suspended and citizens are required to stay at home.

After the city’s borders were closed on January 23 and all incoming and outgoing flights canceled, other nearby cities in Hubei province also implemented their own policies restricting the movement of people.

The lockdown now means residents cannot leave Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou and other cities in Hubei province. In other areas of China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, restrictions are in place for smaller communities, such as building blocks or neighborhoods.

Many cities across China have reduced public transport lines and routes, while few have closed inner-city public transport entirely.

Some communities have instituted curfews or only allow people to exit and enter at particular times. In other areas, restrictions mean only a certain number of people from a household can leave their residence at any one time.

China, where the virus emerged in December, reported a sharp drop in new cases but the data was partly attributable to a change in how it diagnoses the virus and the figures could not quell growing alarm about its spread.

China’s National Health Commission reported 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, the lowest daily rise since January 29, while Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak – reported the lowest number of new infections since February 11.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases in China to over 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three-quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.

(Production: Thomas Suen, Fang Nanlin, Iona Serrapica)

Air quality in Beijing improves due to coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

As the whole world is struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic, one of the unexpected outcomes for Chinese people is more clean skies.

China had a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities like Beijing during February, when factories and streets were closed as authorities attempted to stop the spread of the virus, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus satellite image.

Analysis by Greenpeace shows that the pollutant emissions in Beijing and its surrounding areas dropped by more than 40% year-on-year in February.

Compared to previous years, the air in the capital has seen a big improvement during the outbreak. Streets and landmarks are no longer covered in smog.

Beijing resident Liu Chuan takes this as a potential health benefit, saying that he could even see stars at night after work.

“It feels like the air is overall much less polluted than it used to be. It also improves people’s mood, and indirectly strengthens the immunity. It’s good for fighting the virus,” added Liu.

However, expert warns the air pollution and carbon emissions may soon reappear as Chinese factories are ramping up output in an effort to offset the economic hit of coronavirus.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that it may cause air pollution frequently if a large scale of high-polluting industries resume production,” said Lyn Liu, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. (Reuters)

(Production: Irene Wang, Shubing Wang, Joyce Zhou, Natalie Thomas)

China advises foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China’s foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing, after the country temporarily banned most foreigners from entering to prevent a resurgence of a coronavirus epidemic, a spokeswoman said on Friday (April 3).

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that the ministry was aware of confirmed coronavirus cases among foreign diplomats in China.

Mainland China reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 29 of which were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

The total number of infections now stands at 81,620 and 3,322 deaths have been reported from mainland China to date. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Irene Wang)

19 people killed in massive forest fire in southwestern China

UNTV News   •   March 31, 2020

A massive forest fire in southwestern China has killed 19 people, according to a state media report on Tuesday (March 31).

Eighteen firefighters and a local guide were confirmed dead, from a group of 21 firefighters who went to fight the blaze that had spread over more than 1,000 hectares of land near Xichang, a city in Sichuan province.

The fire started on a farm on Monday (March 30) afternoon and quickly spread to nearby mountains due to strong winds, according to local reports.

Flames and heavy smoke were seen drifting into the sky, posing a threat to a nearby town — including a gas storage station about 70 meters away from parts of the fire.

“This place (the gas station) is by far the most dangerous place in this forest fire in Xichang,” said Zhang Shanhu, a member of the local fire and rescue team.

Police have evacuated more than 1,200 people from the area, and local authorities have organized over 2,000 people to fight the blaze. (Reuters)

(Production: Irene Wang)

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