International

Quarantine building collapse in China; 12 dead

Quarantine building collapse in China; 12 dead
Rescuers search for victims at the site of a hotel collapse in Quanzhou, southeast China’s Fujian Province, Sunday. (AP)
Beijing/IANS, March 8 (IANS) | Publish Date: 3/8/2020 9:46:12 AM IST

At least 12 people were killed in China after a multi-storey hotel used as a quarantine centre for coronavirus victims collapsed, the media reported on Sunday.

Authorities had reported that 71 people were trapped under the rubble of the building after it collapsed on Saturday evening in Quanzhou city, Fujian province, Efe news quoted the media reports as saying.

On Sunday, Xinhua news agency said that 42 people had been pulled out by 10.30 a.m. More than 20 were still feared trapped under the rubble.

Rescue teams consisting of around 1,000 personnel continue to look for victims at the site.

Video footage aired by local broadcasters showed THE building completely destroyed on one side with a large dust cloud engulfing the area.

The structure has been identified as Hotel Xinjia, which along with other large-scale hospitality and sports facilities in the country had been turned into an observation centRE for monitoring suspected COVID-19 patients from nearby areas.

The reasons for the hotel’s collapse were not immediately clear, while the police have summoned its owner for questioning, according to the official Global Times newspaper.

China has enforced a series of stringent measures to check the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed at least 3,097 people and infected 80,695 in the country.

Provisional hospitals have been constructed in record time and buildings meant for other uses have been taken over for the fight against the disease.

Italy puts millions under quarantine to contain COVID-19

The Italian government has imposed a sweeping quarantine on the Lombardy region and 11 northeastern provinces that are together home to some 16 million people in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has so far claimed the lives of 233 people.

Taking effect on Sunday and remain in force through April 3, the measure would prohibit people from entering or leaving the affected areas except in cases of “non-deferrable work reasons” or emergencies, Efe news reported citing a draft of the proposed decree as saying.

Lombardy, with roughly 10 million residents, accounts for more than 20 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product. The regional capital, Milan, is the country’s most populous metropolitan area.

The lockdown will also apply to the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio, Rimini, Pesaro e Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Asti and Alessandria, all located in the northeastern part of the country.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy stands at 5,883 and 85 per cent of those patients are in Lombardy and the 11 named provinces.

Besides preventing people from entering or leaving the “red zones”, the prospective decree calls for closing gyms, swimming pools, thermal baths, museums and ski resorts, while shopping centres will be required to close on weekends.

The aggressive quarantine calls for the postponement of large gatherings, ranging from cultural and sporting events to weddings and funerals.

Italy’s top professional football league, Serie A, announced earlier this week that it would begin holding matches behind closed doors.

The government has also ordered schools and universities nationwide to suspend classes until March 15. Those in the quarantine areas will now remain shuttered until April 3.

Restaurants and bars in the designated areas will be permitted to remain open, with the condition that they maintain a minimum distance of a metre between patrons.

The new plan represents a massive expansion of the isolation regimes imposed two weeks ago on 11 municipalities with a total population of around 50,000. The number of new infections climbed by 1,145 in 24 hours, civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said Saturday.

Lombardy’s health system is struggling under the burden of treating 1,661 people hospitalized with coronavirus, including 359 patients in intensive care.

“In the absence of urgent and adequate measures on the part of the authorities, we will have to face a event that we will only be able to describe as a disastrous health calamity,” the office that coordinates intensive care units in Lombardy said in a statement.

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus and nearly 3,500 have died from the illness.

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