By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
CHINESE officials predict that by the end of the month no new cases of the coronavirus will emerge from the Hubei province, the epicentre of the disease outbreak, even as local Chinese restaurants continue taking a hit over illness fears.
Huang Qinguo, Chinese ambassador to The Bahamas, emphasised the declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases in China as fears increase over cases in Italy, South Korea and Iran.
“Strong and effective measures have been taken in China,” he said. “The spread of the virus has been effectively controlled in China. By today, March 5, China has a number of confirmed cases of 80,851 and the total cured cases has reached 52,151. About 70 percent of the confirmed cases have already been cured and released from hospitals and currently there are about 25,000 still in hospital because of confirmed cases and the suspected cases have been reduced to 500. Recently, the daily number of new cases has been reduced to less than 200 around China and mainly from Hubei province and the city of Wuhan. Except for Hubei, the increase in confirmed cases has been less than 10 for several days.”
He added: “According to the projection of the experts of China, we believe that by the end of this month the new increased cases out of Hubei province will be lowered to zero and by the end of April the normal daily life will be restored all around China, except in Hubei. Many cities are in the process of restoring their normal daily lives.”
Mr Qinguo said he met two government ministers before yesterday’s press conference.
“Two ministers commended the achievements made by Chinese government and said they will follow the development of the situation in China closely and revisit the policy of The Bahamas and they will consider to lift the restrictions according to their assessment,” he said.
Around the world, Asians have reported rising xenophobia because of the coronavirus and some Chinese businesses have taken a hit.
“We do receive the reports from the Chinese community here saying that due to the worries about the spread of the virus less people are going to Chinese restaurants to have food,” Mr Quinguo said. “That’s a fact. It’s a natural response that reducing the social contact could reduce the risk of spread of the virus.”
In recent days, there have been many more reported new cases of coronavirus in countries outside China than within that country.
The press conference came a day after the government declared China an “infected” place for six months - making it official policy to prohibit non-Bahamian citizens from entering The Bahamas if they have been to that country within the last 20 days.
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands tabled the order in the House of Assembly under the Quarantine Act.
It gives the health minister authority to declare any place outside The Bahamas an infected place for a period of limited duration.
Since January 11, The Bahamas has been denying entry to non-residents who visited China. Returning residents are being quarantined for an incubation period of 14 days. Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended these travel restrictions to residents and visitors coming from Italy, Iran and South Korea.