According to Chinese health authorities, the number of confirmed cases grew by 2,102 on Friday, bringing the total to 11,791 nationwide. An additional 45 people died in Hubei – the province at the epicenter of the outbreak – and one person died in the megacity of Chongqing on Friday, as the number of fatalities reached 259.
The pronounced increase in cases and deaths show the virus is not slowing, even after over a week of much of Hubei being under partial quarantine and an extended Lunar New Year holiday. With most of China due to return to work on Monday, the concern will be how far the virus will now spread, and whether the country’s economy can bear the type of further quarantines and travel restrictions that may be necessary to rein it in.
Worldwide the total number of cases now stands at 11,940, with 149 confirmed cases outside of China, including seven in the United States, two in the United Kingdom, four in Canada, nine in Australia and 13 in Singapore.
Washington announced Friday that it will impose a 14-day travel ban on all visitors from China, regardless of their nationality. US citizens arriving from Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, will have to undergo 14-days mandatory quarantine on arrival, while those traveling any other part of China will face screening and monitoring.
The mandatory quarantine is the first time the US has issued such an order in 50 years. The move came as the seventh case of the virus was confirmed in the US, an adult male in California who recently traveled to Wuhan.
China criticized the move, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying it went against World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations not to impose travel bans.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed. Many countries have offered China support in various means,” she said. “In sharp contrast, certain US officials’ words and actions are neither factual nor appropriate.”
It may be part of a growing trend, however. The US ban comes after Singapore banned all visitors from mainland China, saying anyone who had been in the country in the past 14 days will not be able to visit or transit through the city state. Taiwan has also suspended visa applications for Chinese nationals, and banned entry to any from Hubei province.
Other countries have seen a wave of ugly xenophobia and racism directed at Chinese travelers and those of Chinese heritage. In a statement last week, health authorities in Toronto warned concerns about the virus and misinformation were creating “unnecessary stigma against members of our community.”