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Coronavirus threatens Myanmar’s most vulnerable in displacement camps


Rohingya refugees watch ICJ proceedings at a restaurant in a refugee campImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Displaced communities in Myanmar are especially vulnerable to the virus

An estimated 350,000 displaced people across Myanmar are “sitting in the path of a public health catastrophe”, says rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Overcrowding, movement restrictions and poor sanitation have left these groups especially vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, HRW said.

Myanmar had its first infections last week and its first death on Monday.

A government official had previously claimed the country’s “lifestyle and diet” protected its people.

Myanmar, which is home to around 51 million people, has a poor healthcare system.

A large percentage of the population does not have access to even basic healthcare, Associate Professor Nehginpao Kipgen of the Jindal School of International Affairs told BBC News – much less those who are displaced.

People living in camps often struggle to get even basic access to clean water and other essential services.

“Health conditions are already disastrous for displaced people in Rakhine, Kachin, and northern Shan camps, and now Covid-19 is threatening to decimate these vulnerable communities,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW.

UK-based charity organisation Oxfam shared some insight into the situation at one camp in Rakhine state – and how difficult it would be under normal circumstances to get treatment.

“If someone falls ill and needs more specialised care, they must seek and receive official permission, which often takes a few days… [and] pay for a security escort to travel with them to the hospital,” said the organisation in a statement.

The potential to ‘decimate’ communities

Waves of communal violence in Myanmar have displaced tens of thousands of people, many from the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

According to a report published on Monday by HRW, around 130,000 Muslims in Rakhine state live in open-air detention camps, with extremely restricted access to health facilities, none of which have Covid-19 testing facilities.

The report says that in such camps, one toilet is shared by as many as 40 people, one water access point by as many as 600 – making it easy for the virus to be transmitted.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many of those in camps live in terrible conditions

It adds that these people are “effectively imprisoned… arbitrarily denied freedom of movement” and therefore unable to access public health facilities even if they wanted to.

“Overcrowding in the camps is pervasive, making physical distancing nearly impossible and significantly increasing the risk of transmission,” said the HRW report.

The report called on the government to lift restrictions on such camps, and to allocate additional space to people to allow for social distancing to happen.

But it’s not just the conditions of displaced people that have experts worried.

“The World Health Organization has ranked Myanmar’s healthcare system as one of world’s worst after decades of neglect under the military rule,” said Prof Kipgen.

“While cities like Yangon and Mandalay have better facilities, many parts of the country still don’t even have basic healthcare services.”

A healthy lifestyle and diet?

For weeks, authorities denied that there were any cases in the country, which shares a border with China. Hundreds of citizens cross the border every day to work in China, often illegally, say local reports.

“Myanmar shares a border with China [that is] over 2,200km long. It welcomed almost 750,000 Chinese visitors in 2019 – [its] largest source of tourism,” said Prof Kipgen.

Myanmar’s slow response to the outbreak has been heavily criticised. As of late March, around 300 virus tests had been carried out across the country, according to Reuters news agency.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Myanmar now has 14 cases of the virus

Government spokesman Zaw Htay had said the absence of cases was due to Myanmar’s “lifestyle and diet”, adding that because citizens generally paid for purchases with cash instead of credit cards, they were unlikely to spread the virus.

Myanmar now has 14 confirmed cases of the virus, mostly from people who have travelled overseas. On Monday, it recorded its first virus-related death, a 69-year-old who also suffered from cancer. He had recently travelled to both Australia and Singapore.

There are currently 859,566 confirmed cases across the world with some 42,332 deaths according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Reporting by the BBC’s Yvette Tan

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: Thai elephants face starvation as tourism collapses


Thai elephantsImage copyright Alex Johncola
Image caption Elephants are a major feature of Thailand’s tourist trail

More than 1,000 elephants face starvation in Thailand because the coronavirus crisis has slashed revenue from tourism, conservationists say.

An almost total absence of visitors means that many caretakers are struggling to afford food for Thailand’s 4,000 captive elephants.

The animals can eat up to 200kg (440lb) of food a day.

Thailand reported 127 new confirmed cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the country’s recorded total to 1,651.

Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, told the BBC: “If there is no support forthcoming to keep them safe, these elephants, some of whom are pregnant, will either starve to death or may be put on to the streets to beg.”

Image copyright Save the Elephants
Image caption Many trekking elephants in northern Thailand are now standing idle

Alternatively, some elephants may be sold to zoos or they may be returned to the illicit logging business, which officially banned the use of elephants in 1989.

“It’s a very bleak outlook unless some financial help is received immediately,” Lek Chailert adds.

It’s a challenge to keep the animals fed and healthy at the best of times but now it’s the dry season, which makes the situation even more extreme.

Kerri McCrae, who manages the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary in Mae Chaem, in northern Thailand, said the villagers who live near her had brought approximately seven elephants back to her area because they were not receiving any money from tourism anymore.

“Feeding elephants is a priority but the issue is that there’s not enough forest left to feed them,” she explains.

Image copyright Kerri Tumenne
Image caption Elephants no longer show happy behaviours, such as playing or swinging tails

Ms McCrae, who originally comes from Northern Ireland and is also a co-founder of the sanctuary, has to drive up to three hours a day to find enough grasses and corn stalks to feed the five elephants in her care.

She says local elephant caretakers are forced to do the same.

The country, which normally relies on tourism for a large portion of its economic growth, has been forced to close its borders to all tourists and much of the country is in lockdown.

Happy elephants, Kerri McCrae says, are usually swinging their tails or flapping their ears or even giving themselves dust baths to keep cool. But elephants get depressed when they’re hungry, and none of that happy behaviour would be on display.

“The worst case scenario is that owners will have to chose between themselves and their elephants,” Ms McCrae says. “The people here don’t have much, but they’re doing what it takes to keep the elephants alive for now.”

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: Search for hundreds of people after Delhi prayer meeting


Hundreds have been leaving the mosque to be monitored or tested for the virusImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hundreds have been leaving the mosque to be monitored or tested for the virus

Officials across India are searching for hundreds of people who attended a religious event in the capital that has set off several Covid-19 clusters.

At least six regions have reported cases that can be directly traced to the days-long congregation at a mosque.

Delhi officials are now clearing the building, where more than 1,000 people have been stranded since the government imposed a lockdown last week.

At least 24 have tested positive so far, the state health minister said.

They are among some 300 people who showed symptoms and have been moved to various hospital to be tested, he told the media. Another 700 have been shifted into quarantine centres, he added.

It is believed that the infections were caused by preachers who attended the event from Indonesia.

State officials have called for action to be taken against mosque officials, but they have denied any wrongdoing.

Local media reports say that Nizamuddin – the locality where the mosque is located – has been cordoned off and more than 35 buses carrying people to hospitals or quarantine centres.

The congregation – part of a 20th Century Islamic movement called Tablighi Jamaat – began at the end of February, but some of the main events were held in early March.

It’s unclear if the event was ticketed or even if the organisers maintained a roster of visitors as people attended the event throughout, with some staying on and others leaving. Even overseas visitors, some of them preachers, travelled to other parts of the country where they stayed in local mosques and met people.

Image copyright Getty Images

So officials have no easy way of finding out how many people attended the event or where they went. But they have already begun to trace and test.

The southern state of Telangana reported on Sunday night that six people who had attended the event died from the virus. The state’s medical officer told the BBC that more than 40 of Telangana’s 71 cases were either directly or indirectly linked to the event.

Indian-administered Kashmir reported its first death from the virus last week – a 65-year-old who had been in Delhi for the congregation. Officials told BBC Urdu that more than 40 of the region’s 48 cases could be traced back to that one patient.

A cluster has even appeared in the distant Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where six of the nine who have tested positive, had returned from the Delhi event.

The southern states of Tami Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have said more than 3,000 people from their states had attended the event, and Tamil Nadu has traced 16 positive patients to it.

States have also asked other people who attended to come forward for testing.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked for a police complaint to be registered against the head of the mosque.

However, the event’s organisers have issued a statement, saying they had suspended the event and asked everyone to leave as soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that there would be a day-long national curfew on 22 March.

While many were able to leave, they say, others were stranded because states began to seal their borders the following day, and two days later, India imposed a 21-day lockdown, suspending buses and trains.

The mosque’s premises include dormitories that can house hundreds of people.

The organisers say they informed the local police about all of this and continued to cooperate with medical officers who came to inspect the premises.

The mosque, the statement says, “never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi from different states. It did not let them violate the medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs (bus stops) or roaming on streets.”

This is not the first time religious congregations have been blamed for the spread of coronavirus.

Tablighi Jamaat events have also been blamed for spreading cases in Indonesia and Malaysia.

And in South Korea, many positive cases were linked to the Schincheonji church, a secretive religious sect, that has since apologised for its role in the outbreak.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Heartbreaking scenes as India lockdown sparks mass migration

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: Countries reject Chinese-made equipment


A man in protective gear wheels a stretcher into a hospital in Uden, the NetherlandsImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Netherlands has been among the countries reporting faulty Chinese-made equipment

A number of European governments have rejected Chinese-made equipment designed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Thousands of testing kits and medical masks are below standard or defective, according to authorities in Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Europe has reported hundreds of thousands of cases of coronavirus.

More than 10,000 people have died in Italy since the outbreak began.

The virus was first detected in China at the end of 2019. The government implemented strict lockdown measures to bring it under control.

What’s wrong with the equipment?

On Saturday, the Dutch health ministry announced it had recalled 600,000 face masks. The equipment had arrived from a Chinese manufacturer on 21 March, and had already been distributed to front-line medical teams.

Dutch officials said that the masks did not fit and that their filters did not work as intended, even though they had a quality certificate,

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“The rest of the shipment was immediately put on hold and has not been distributed,” a statement read. “Now it has been decided not to use any of this shipment.”

Spain’s government encountered similar problems with testing kits ordered from a Chinese company.

It announced it had bought hundreds of thousands of tests to combat the virus, but revealed in the following days that nearly 60,000 could not accurately determine if a patient had the virus.

The Spanish embassy in China tweeted that the company behind the kits, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, did not have an official license from Chinese medical authorities to sell its products.

It clarified that separate material donated by the Chinese government and technology and retail group Alibaba did not include products from Shenzhen Bioeasy.

Turkey also announced that it had found some testing kits ordered from Chinese companies were not sufficiently accurate, although it said that some 350,000 of the tests worked well.

Allegations of defective equipment come after critics warned China could be using the coronavirus outbreak to further its influence.

In a blog post last week, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell warned that there is “a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’.”

“China is aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the US, it is a responsible and reliable partner,” he wrote. “Armed with facts, we need to defend Europe against its detractors.”

What’s the situation in Europe?

On Monday, Spain reported 812 new deaths in the space of 24 hours – bringing its total death toll to 7,340. It now has more than 85,000 infections – surpassing the number of cases reported in China.

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Media captionSpanish doctor “scared and exhausted” by pandemic

New measures have also come into force in Spain banning all non-essential workers from going to their jobs. The restrictions will be in place for at least two weeks.

Italy remains the worst affected country worldwide. More than 10,000 people have died from the virus there, and it has recorded nearly 100,000 infections. Only the US has more confirmed cases, although the death toll there is far lower.

Major Inputs from BBC news

North Korea hails ‘super large’ launcher test as virus timing condemned


A man watches a news broadcast showing file footage of a North Korean missile testImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption This file photo shows a previous North Korean missile test

North Korea hailed a test of “super large” rocket launchers, just hours after the South condemned the state as “inappropriate” for pursing tests amid the global coronavirus outbreak

On Sunday, South Korea said two short-range missiles had been fired, the latest in a flurry of tests this month.

The North generally ramps up missile tests in the spring and the global virus outbreak has not deterred it.

It has reported no virus cases, but experts have cast doubt on this.

Sunday’s test was of two short-range ballistic missiles fired from the eastern city of Wonsan. They flew for 410km (255 miles) with a maximum altitude of around 50km before falling into the sea, the South Korean military said.

Then on Monday, North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported that it had successfully tested “super large” multiple rocket launchers.

By then the South had already condemned the North’s actions In a harshly-worded statement,

“In a situation where the entire world is experiencing difficulties due to Covid-19, this kind of military act by North Korea is very inappropriate and we call for an immediate halt,” said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

No signs of stopping

The latest test marked the eighth and ninth missiles launched in four rounds of tests this month, said news agency Reuters.

This is the most missiles ever fired in a single month by North Korea, according to a senior researcher at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies.

“The only time we’ve seen tests this frequently were in 2016 and 2017,” said Shea Cotton, who also posted details of missile tests that have taken place over the years.

Mr Cotton also told the BBC that it was likely that North Korea would continue testing.

“Most recently they’ve hinted that they’ve developed other yet unseen missiles. I also think they might do tests of new missiles or might test their existing ones in different ways.”

North Korea had earlier announced it would be holding a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s parliament, on 10 April. Analysts say the meeting will involve almost 700 of the country’s leaders in one spot.

“What coronavirus?”

By Laura Bicker, BBC News, Seoul

North Korea is carrying out its spring exercises as if everything is perfectly normal. In fact it’s been one of the state’s busiest months in terms of weapons testing.

Why? Well firstly because it has weapons that it wants to test – despite being under strict sanctions for several years. That itself may be something it is keen to show off to the population.

It’s a move that is less about provocation and more about national pride.

Remember, North Koreans were shown footage of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meeting in Singapore back in 2018 in an unprecedented wave of diplomacy. I have heard from sources within the country that it raised hopes sanctions would be lifted – but nothing has changed.

These exercises give the population something to rally around. The message being portrayed is along the lines of: ‘Look what we can do, look how powerful we are, despite international condemnation.”

Meanwhile – coronavirus? What coronavirus?

North Korea has launched a concerted campaign to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Pyongyang has denied having cases of the virus within its borders. But reports in South Korea have suggested otherwise.

Continuing to carry out weapons tests while the world is fighting another fierce battle will help portray Supreme Leader Kim as very much in control of the pandemic.

North Korea borders China, where the virus emerged, and South Korea, where there has been a major outbreak. A top US military official said last week he was “fairly certain” there were infections in North Korea.

It quarantined around 380 foreigners – mostly diplomats and staff in Pyongyang – in their compounds for at least 30 days.

The restrictions were lifted at the beginning of March. Around 80 foreigners, mainly diplomats, were flown out of the capital on 9 March.

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: India’s PM Modi seeks ‘forgiveness’ over lockdown


A police officer instructs migrant workers and their family members to line-up as they leave India's capital for their homes during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirusImage copyright AFP
Image caption Migrants workers and their families have been crowding at bus stations as they try to get home

India’s prime minister has asked for his country’s forgiveness after imposing a sweeping lockdown that he said had hurt millions of poor people.

Criticism has mounted over the lack of planning ahead of the coronavirus shutdown, which was introduced with less than four hours’ notice.

Many of India’s 1.3 billion citizens have been left jobless and hungry.

Tens of thousands of migrant labourers have been forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to their native villages.

In his weekly radio address PM Narendra Modi apologised for the impact of the strict stay-at-home measures.

But he said there was “no other way” to stop the rapid spread of the virus.

“Especially when I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel that they must be thinking, what kind of prime minister is this who has placed us in this difficulty?

“I especially seek their forgiveness,” he said.

“Possibly many would be angry at me for being locked in their homes.

“I understand your troubles but there was no other way to wage war against coronavirus… It is a battle of life and death and we have to win it.”

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Media captionMillions of people in India are struggling for food during the country’s coronavirus lockdown

People are banned from leaving their homes for three weeks under the “total lockdown” measures announced on Tuesday. All non-essential businesses have been closed and almost all public gatherings are banned.

It has sparked an exodus from major cities such as Delhi, where thousands of migrant workers are setting out on long journeys back to their home villages after transport was stopped.

One worker died on Saturday after he attempted to walk a 168 mile (270km) journey back home, a police officials told Reuters news agency.

India announced a $22bn (£19bn) bailout for the country’s poor on Tuesday, including free food and cash handouts, but there are concerns this might not reach those most in need.

In an opinion piece published on Sunday, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo – two of the three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 – said even more aid for the poor was needed.

“Without that, the demand crisis will snowball into an economic avalanche, and people will have no choice but to defy orders,” they wrote in the Indian Express.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hundreds of thousands of people have been left jobless

India has reported about 1,000 cases of coronavirus and 25 deaths.

However, experts worry that the real number of infections could be far higher. India has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, although efforts are under way to ramp up capacity.

There are fears that an outbreak in the country – one of the world’s most densely populated – could result in a catastrophe.

The country’s economy was already in the midst of a severe slowdown before the country went into lockdown.

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: India defiant as millions struggle under lockdown


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Media captionMillions of people in India are struggling for food during the country’s coronavirus lockdown

The Indian government has defended its handling of the coronavirus outbreak after a strict lockdown – introduced with little warning – left millions stranded and without food.

The country’s response had been “pre-emptive, pro-active and graded”, it said in a statement.

India’s population of 1.3 billion was given less than four hours’ notice of the three-week lockdown on Tuesday.

Officially about 900 people have coronavirus in India.

However, experts worry that the real number of infections could be far higher. India has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, although efforts are under way to ramp up capacity.

There are fears that an outbreak in the country – one of the world’s most densely populated – could result in a catastrophe. So far 20 people are reported to have died.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Migrant workers have been queuing in their thousands as they try to get home to their villages

People are banned from leaving their homes under the “total lockdown” measures. All non-essential businesses have been closed and almost all public gatherings are banned.

But there have been reports of long queues and panic buying as people struggle to get supplies.

After the lockdown was announced, people in Delhi and the financial capital, Mumbai, quickly thronged shops and pharmacies amid fears of shortages.

It prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to warn that panic buying would only spread the disease. He said the government would ensure there were sufficient supplies.

Meanwhile, millions have been left jobless and without money as a result of the shutdown.

It has sparked an exodus from major cities such as Delhi, where thousands of migrant workers are setting out on long journeys back to their home villages after transport was stopped.

One worker died on Saturday after he attempted to walk a 168 mile (270km) journey back home, a police officials told Reuters news agency.

On Saturday the Information and Broadcasting Ministry hit back against criticism that the measures were announced without planning.

The government had already put in place a “comprehensive response system” at its borders before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January, it added.

Several state governments have promised cash handouts to migrant workers, but there are concerns about the logistics of delivering the aid.

Uttar Pradesh in the north is also putting on buses to help those who have been left stranded.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police are enforcing the 21-day lockdown

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly in other countries around the world.

  • The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation. People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.
  • More than 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and over 30,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University
  • The death toll in Spain has exceeded 5,000, after it reported 832 more fatalities in the past 24 hours. Spain is the world’s worst hit country after Italy
  • The US now has the highest number of confirmed infections at 104,000
  • South Korea says that for the first time it now has more people who have recovered from the virus than are still infected. It reported 146 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 9,478 – of whom 4,811 have been released from hospital
  • Russia and Ireland are among the latest countries to bring in new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus. In Russia, shopping centres, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close. In Ireland, people will have to stay at home with limited exceptions for the next two weeks
  • In the UK, frontline National Health Service staff in England will begin being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus

Major Inputs from BBC news

Locked down India struggles as workers flee cities and homeless call for food

Millions of homeless people and migrant labourers have been left in the lurch after India announced a 21-day lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

With factories and construction sites closing down, many have expressed fears that they would starve to death.

State governments have announced that they will open centres to feed these people, but have been overwhelmed.

Many have opted to walk hundreds of miles to their villages as public transport has been suspended.

Video by Varun Nayar

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdown


Passengers arrive at the railway station in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on 28 March 2020, after travel restrictions into the city were easedImage copyright AFP
Image caption Many of those arriving in Wuhan on Saturday pulled suitcases behind them as they returned to their families

The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.

Crowds of passengers were pictured arriving at Wuhan train station on Saturday.

People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, saw more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 people in Hubei died from the disease.

But numbers have fallen dramatically, according to China’s figures. The state on Saturday reported 54 new cases emerging the previous day – which it said were all imported.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China has announced a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.

In other global developments:

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly in other countries around the world.

  • More than 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and almost 29,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 136,000 patients have recovered
  • The death toll in Spain has exceeded 5,000, after it reported 832 more fatalities in the past 24 hours. Spain is the world’s worst hit country after Italy
  • The US now has the highest number of confirmed infections at 104,000
  • South Korea says that for the first time it now has more people who have recovered from the virus than are still infected. It reported 146 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 9,478 – of whom 4,811 have been released from hospital
  • Russia and Ireland are among the latest countries to bring in new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus. In Russia, shopping centres, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close. In Ireland, people will have to stay at home with limited exceptions for the next two weeks
  • In the UK, frontline National Health Service staff in England will begin being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus

What signs are there of Wuhan reopening?

The virus is thought to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals”.

The city’s 11 million residents have been shut off from the rest of the world since the middle of January, with roadblocks around the outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Life inside China’s lockdown

But roads reopened to incoming traffic late on Friday, according to Reuters news agency.

And state media said the subway was open from Saturday and trains would be able to arrive at the city’s 17 railway stations.

Nineteen-year-old student Guo Liangkai, who arrived back in the city after three months, told Reuters: “First of all, it makes me very happy to see my family.

“We wanted to hug but now is a special period so we can’t hug or make any actions like these.”

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mask-clad passengers waited in a line after arriving at the railway station in Wuhan on Saturday

All arrivals in Wuhan have to show a green code on a mobile app to prove that they are healthy.

Officials say restrictions on people leaving the city will be lifted on 8 April, when domestic flights are also expected to restart.

The virus emerged in China in December and more than 3,300 people there have died from the infection – but both Italy and Spain now have higher death tolls.

This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

Cases Deaths
USA 104,688 1,707
Italy 86,498 9,134
China 81,996 3,299
Spain 72,248 5,690
Germany 53,340 399
Iran 35,408 2,517
France 32,964 1,995
UK 17,089 1,019
Switzerland 13,259 241
South Korea 9,478 144
Belgium 9,134 353
Netherlands 8,603 546
Austria 7,712 68
Turkey 5,698 92
Canada 4,760 56
Portugal 4,268 76
Norway 3,807 20
Australia 3,635 14
Brazil 3,477 93
Israel 3,460 12
Sweden 3,069 105
Czech Republic 2,422 9
Malaysia 2,320 27
Ireland 2,121 22
Denmark 2,046 52
Ecuador 1,627 41
Chile 1,610 5
Luxembourg 1,605 15
Japan 1,525 52
Romania 1,452 29
Poland 1,436 16
Pakistan 1,408 11
Russia 1,264 4
Thailand 1,245 6
South Africa 1,170 1
Finland 1,165 7
Indonesia 1,155 102
Saudi Arabia 1,104 3
Philippines 1,075 68
Greece 966 28
India 933 20
Iceland 890 2
Panama 786 14
Singapore 732 2
Mexico 717 12
Diamond Princess cruise ship 712 10
Argentina 690 17
Slovenia 684 9
Estonia 645 1
Croatia 635 4
Peru 635 11
Dominican Republic 581 20
Qatar 562
Colombia 539 6
Egypt 536 30
Serbia 528 1
Iraq 506 42
Bahrain 473 4
New Zealand 451
Lebanon 412 8
Algeria 409 26
United Arab Emirates 405 2
Lithuania 382 5
Armenia 372 1
Morocco 358 23
Hungary 343 11
Bulgaria 313 5
Ukraine 311 8
Latvia 305
Taiwan 283 2
Uruguay 274
Slovakia 269
Andorra 267 3
Costa Rica 263 2
Bosnia and Herzegovina 257 4
Kuwait 235
Jordan 235 1
Tunisia 227 7
San Marino 223 21
North Macedonia 219 3
Kazakhstan 204 1
Moldova 199 2
Albania 186 8
Burkina Faso 180 9
Vietnam 169
Azerbaijan 165 3
Cyprus 162 5
Oman 152
Malta 149
Réunion 145
Faroe Islands 144
Ghana 137 4
Senegal 130
Brunei 120 1
Venezuela 113 2
Sri Lanka 110
Afghanistan 110 4
Uzbekistan 104 2
Ivory Coast 101
Cambodia 99
Palestinian Territories 97 1
Honduras 95 1
Mauritius 94 2
Belarus 94
Martinique 93 1
Cameroon 91 2
Kosovo 88 1
Georgia 85
Montenegro 82 1
Nigeria 81 1
Cuba 80 2
Puerto Rico 79 3
Bolivia 74
Guadeloupe 73 1
Trinidad and Tobago 66 2
Kyrgyzstan 58
DR Congo 58 6
Liechtenstein 56
Paraguay 56 3
Gibraltar 55
Rwanda 54
Jersey 52 1
Guam 51 1
Mayotte 50
Bangladesh 48 5
Monaco 42
Guernsey 36
Aruba 33
Isle of Man 32
Guatemala 32 1
Kenya 31 1
French Polynesia 30
Jamaica 30 1
French Guiana 28
Barbados 26
Madagascar 26
Togo 25 1
Uganda 23
Zambia 22
United States Virgin Islands 19
El Salvador 19
Bermuda 17
Ethiopia 16
Maldives 16
New Caledonia 15
Tanzania 13
Mongolia 12
Djibouti 12
Equatorial Guinea 12
Saint Martin 11
Mali 11
Dominica 11
Niger 10 1
Greenland 10
Bahamas 10
Eswatini 9
Curaçao 8 1
Cayman Islands 8 1
Haiti 8
Suriname 8
Myanmar 8
Namibia 8
Guinea 8
Gabon 7 1
Zimbabwe 7 1
Mozambique 7
Antigua and Barbuda 7
Seychelles 7
Grenada 7
Eritrea 6
Laos 6
Benin 6
Nepal 5
Fiji 5
Saint Barthelemy 5
Syria 5
Mauritania 5
Guyana 5 1
Montserrat 5
Sudan 5 1
Cape Verde 5 1
Congo 4
Angola 4
Vatican 4
Nicaragua 4 1
Central African Republic 3
Somalia 3
Bhutan 3
Liberia 3
Sint Maarten 3
Chad 3
Saint Lucia 3
Gambia 3 1
Turks and Caicos Islands 2
Belize 2
Anguilla 2
MS Zaandam cruise ship 2
British Virgin Islands 2
Saint Kitts and Nevis 2
Guinea-Bissau 2
Libya 1
St Vincent and the Grenadines 1
Papua New Guinea 1
Timor-Leste 1


Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies

It is now battling to control a wave of imported cases as infections soar abroad.

This so-called “second wave” of imported infections is also affecting countries like South Korea and Singapore, which had been successful in stopping the spread of disease in recent weeks.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Wuhan has been under lockdown since the middle of January

Major Inputs from BBC news

Coronavirus: The woman behind India’s first testing kit


A coronavirus testing centre in DelhiImage copyright Getty Images

India has been criticised for its poor record of testing people in the battle against coronavirus. That, however, is set to change, thanks in large part to the efforts of one virologist, who delivered on a working test kit, just hours before delivering her baby .

On Thursday, the first made-in-India coronavirus testing kits reached the market, raising hopes of an increase in screening of patients with flu symptoms to confirm or rule out the Covid-19 infection.

Mylab Discovery, in the western city of Pune, became the first Indian firm to get full approval to make and sell testing kits. It shipped the first batch of 150 to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru (Bangalore) this week.

“Our manufacturing unit… is working through the weekend and the next batch will be sent out on Monday,” Dr Gautam Wankhede, Mylab’s director for medical affairs, told the BBC on Friday.

The molecular diagnostic company, which also makes testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases, says it can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and can produce up to 200,000 if needed.

Each Mylab kit can test 100 samples and costs 1,200 rupees ($16; £13) – that’s about a quarter of the 4,500 rupees that India pays to import Covid-19 testing kits from abroad.

Virologist delivered kit, then her baby

“Our kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours while the imported testing kits take six-seven hours,” says virologist Minal Dakhave Bhosale, Mylab’s research and development chief.

Ms Bhosale, who headed the team that designed the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect, said it was done “in record time” – six weeks instead of three or four months.

And the scientist was battling with her own deadline too. Last week she gave birth to a baby girl – and only began work on the programme in February, just days after leaving hospital with a pregnancy complication.

“It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I have to serve my nation,” she says, adding that her team of 10 worked “very hard” to make the project a success.

In the end, she submitted the kit for evaluation by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on 18 March, just a day before delivering her daughter.

Image copyright Minal Dakhave Bhosale
Image caption Minal Dakhave Bhosale says Mylab’s testing kit was developed ‘in record time’

That same evening, just an hour before she was taken to hospital ahead of her Caesarean, she submitted the proposal to the Indian FDA and the drugs control authority CDSCO for commercial approval.

“We were running against time,” says Dr Wankhede. “Our reputation was at stake, we had to get everything right on the first go, and Minal was leading our efforts from the front.”

Before submitting the kits for evaluation, the team had to check and re-check all the parameters to ensure its results that were precise, and accurate.

“If you carry out 10 tests on the same sample, all 10 results should be same,” said Ms Bhosale. “And we achieved that. Our kit was perfect.”

The government-run Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), under which NIV operates, agreed. It said Mylab was the only Indian company to achieve 100% results.

‘Gaping holes in Indian health system’

India has been criticised for not testing enough. It has one of the lowest rates in the world, with just 6.8 tests per million.

Initially, India insisted on testing only those who had travelled to high-risk countries or had come in contact with an infected person or health workers treating coronavirus patients. It later said that anyone admitted to hospital with severe respiratory distress should also be tested.

But with the circle of infection widening daily, the numbers are expected to grow hugely.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption India has tightly controlled the number of people who could be tested for the coronavirus

In the past few days, India has scaled up testing. Initially, only the state labs were allowed to test for coronavirus, but permission has now been extended to several private labs too.

And on Thursday, India also gave approvals to 15 private companies to commercially sell diagnostic kits based on licences they have obtained in the US, European Union and some other countries.

Dr Wankhede says with the number of suppliers and labs increasing every day, the testing will go up exponentially.

Increased testing would be a huge help, but experts say India has gaping holes in its health infrastructure that need to be plugged urgently to deal with the growing threat of coronavirus.

“South Korea – that’s so tiny – has 650 labs testing for the coronavirus, how many do we have?” asks Sujatha Rao, former federal health secretary.

India has only 118 government laboratories and officials say 50 private labs will also be roped in.

For a population of 1.3 billion, that is far from adequate.

“India will have to identify many more labs, then the testing kits have to reach there, and technicians have to be trained. And getting the infrastructure ramped up will take time,” Ms Rao says.

And once the test results start coming in and if a large number of people test positive and require hospitalisation, India will find it difficult to cope.

“You know the state of the healthcare facilities in the country? They are all bunched up in urban areas, there’s very little facility in rural India. That will be a big challenge,” she says.

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Media captionPeople panicked after Narendra Modi said nobody should leave their homes, and did not mention the status of essential supplies

Major Inputs from BBC news