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British Airways stops flights to China as first coronavirus hospital opens near Wuham

British Airways has stopped all of its direct flights to and from mainland China amid the coronavirus outbreak – with the decision coming after the United Kingdom advised against “all but essential” travel to the rest of the country on Tuesday.
When logging into BA.com, the official website for the airline, it currently shows no direct flights to the country – with a posted notice, “Sorry, there are no direct flights for this route, flights with connections are below.”
“We apologize to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” BA said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Wednesday. “Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on BA.com.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the decision to advise against traveling to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao) was due to the restrictions of movement placed by the government in response to the outbreak.
“It may become harder over the coming weeks for those who wish to leave China to do so,” the FCO said. “If you feel that you may want to leave China soon, you should consider making plans to do so before any further restrictions may be imposed.”
Multiple countries have started evacuating their citizens from China because of the deadly virus, which has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad.
China has cut off access to Wuhan – the epicenter of the virus – as well as 16 other cities in Hubei province to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The United States, Japan, and South Korea have also planned evacuations.
The U.S. has reported five infections since the outbreak started, according to the CDC.
Several countries have confirmed cases of the virus, with most of them being Chinese visitors, people who visited Wuhan or family members in close contact with the sick.
Japan’s six confirmed cases include a tour bus driver who drove visiting groups from Wuhan.
Germany says four workers at an auto parts company possibly were infected when a colleague from Shanghai visited.
The United Arab Emirates confirmed its first case on Wednesday in a person who came from Wuhan, the state-run news agency
Meanwhile, China’s first coronavirus hospital opened on Wednesday in a city near Wuhan after workers and volunteers spent just two days converting an empty building to a 1,000-bed emergency facility.
The first batch of coronavirus patients were transferred to the Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre at around 10:30pm local time today, reported local media.
The project was complete within 48 hours thanks to the joint effort of staff from construction firms, utility companies and paramilitary police officers, the city’s authority said.
The hospital building in the city’s Huangzhou District was originally built as a new branch of Huanggang Central Hospital and expected to open in May.
On Friday, the local authority ordered the building, which was complete but empty, to be used for treating coronavirus patients only.
Revamping works started from Saturday.
By Monday, all of the beds had been set up by volunteers, and water, electricity and internet had also been installed, according to the government of Huanggang.
Footage released by China’s Cover News shows medical workers familiarising themselves with the facility Wednesday before the patients started to arrive.
More than 500 workers and a dozen heavy vehicles worked two days and nights in order to complete the task on time.
Situated 75 kilometres (46.6 miles) south-west of Wuhan, Huanggang has a population of around 7.5 million and is one of the cities that have been hit by the coronavirus the hardest.
It went into lockdown last Thursday, the same day as Wuhan.
The coronavirus has killed at least 131 people – all in China – and sickened nearly 6,000 worldwide.
As of yesterday, four people from Huanggang have been killed by the deadly virus and 213 people have been infected.
Although the Huanggang coronavirus hospital was the first to open, it was not the first to be planned.
The government of Wuhan announced last Thursday that they would build a coronavirus hospital in a week.
There are at least four of such facilities completed or being completed in the country.
All of them are modelled on a temporary medical centre in Beijing in 2003, which was built in seven days to tackle SARS and treated one-seventh of the country’s SARS patient in the space of two months.
The authority of Wuhan is building two special facilities to treat a total of 2,300 coronavirus patients.
Incredible time-lapse footage has captured the city’s first coronavirus hospital, Huoshenshan or Fire God Mountain Hospital, starting to take shape after just four days of construction.
The emergency facility is situated in the western suburbs of Wuhan, the epicentre of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The authorities have instructed four construction companies to toil through the Chinese New Year holiday in order to complete the six-acre, 1,000-bed medical centre in Caidian District in a week. It is expected to receive its first patients on February 3, according to state media.
The second hospital in Wuhan, named the Leishanshan or Thunder God Mountain Hospital, is situated in Jiangxia District, a suburban area to the south of the city centre.
Construction started on Saturday and the hospital is set to have two buildings containing a total of 1,500 beds, according to Xinhua News Agency. Around 2,000 medical workers are expected to treat patients in the special 7.4-acre centre, it is reported.
Another hospital is being built in Zhenzhou in central China’s Henan Province.
A German man infected with the Wuhan coronavirus has become the first person in Europe to catch the virus without even going to China.
The 33-year-old caught the disease in his home country on January 21 from a colleague who was visiting from China and later became ill on her flight home. She was from Shanghai but had recently visited her parents in Wuhan.
Fears of the deadly coronavirus, which has now infected nearly 6,000 people, spreading around the world are growing as the German man’s case is one of four – men in Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan have also been infected at home.
Countries around the world are starting to cut ties with China and pull their citizens out of the crisis-hit Hubei region, where the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan.
Hong Kong’s leader Wednesday held a press conference during which she wore a face mask and said the city would stop all high-speed trains and ferries to the mainland, halve the number of flights and stop giving visas to visitors from China.
Four cases around the world have confirmed the coronavirus is spreading from person to person outside of China among people who have not visited the country.
A Japanese bus driver in his 60s, working in the city of Nara, was infected after driving for two groups of people visiting from Wuhan, and a Vietnamese man caught the virus from his father who had recently returned from a visit to China.
In Australia, paramedics in hazmat suits were today seen at the luxury Peppers Broadbeach hotel on the Gold Coast and stoked coronavirus fears when they ushered a masked patient into an ambulance.
And a health minister in Thailand today admitted that the country is ‘not able to stop’ the spread of the virus there, where 14 people have been infected – the most in any place outside of China.
But China is maintaining a solid front – President Xi Jinping Wednesday said the nation would ‘win the battle against the devil virus’ and a Chinese scientist said he thinks the outbreak and the ‘battle of Wuhan’ will peak in 10 days’ time.
Wuhan remains in lockdown and one British man living there said he and his wife and nine-month-old daughter are too afraid to leave their home so are living off leftover food from a New Year dinner.

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