Hong Kong (CNN)Beijing has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers returning to the city, with novel coronavirus cases continuing to rise in China and international experts warning there’s no immediate end in sight.
Beijing authorities announced Friday night local time that all people returning to the Chinese capital would be required to stay at home or under observation for 14 days in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Those who violate the new quarantine rules may face legal repercussions.
The order comes as authorities across the country attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus, known officially as Covid-19. The past week has seen a huge spike in numbers, partially due to the government’s broadening of the definitions for a confirmed case.
China’s National Health Commission said on Saturday that the nationwide death toll had increased by 143 and the number of cases had jumped 2,641 from the previous day.
The commission’s new numbers also reveal that medical workers in China have been hit hard; 1,716 medics have been infected so far, including six who have died.
That brings the total number of cases globally to 67,097, and the global death toll to 1,526. The vast majority of these figures are within mainland China and concentrated in Hubei Province, where the virus originated.
Outside of China, more than 600 cases have been confirmed, including 200 cases on a cruise ship docked in Japan; the United States government is sending a charter plane on Sunday to evacuate Americans on board who wish to leave.
Friday marked the first confirmed coronavirus case in Africa, with a single patient in Egypt. Countries worldwide have implemented stringent emergency measures in the wake of the outbreak — but these containment efforts may only slow down the spread of the virus, not end it, said US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Thursday.
Instead, these efforts may buy precious time for scientists, who are racing to develop a vaccine. There is currently no treatment or cure for Covid-19.
The fight against the virus is made more complicated by how little we know — researchers are still learning more about how it survives, transmits, and replicates.
“This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission (in the United States),” warned Redfield. “The containment phase is really to give us more time.”
The CDC has offered to send experts to China, but the offer has not yet been accepted. Instead, a World Health Organization-led joint mission to China is expected to t