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Trump’s Impeachment Rage, Bloomberg on Coal – NBC Chicago

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As near-certain impeachment closes in on him, President Donald Trump raged at his accusers, the Democrats. In the process, he offered a highly selective account of the testimony of a damning witness and misrepresented the facts of a phone call at the heart of the constitutional showdown.

Trump also branded Democrats crazy for wanting to impeach him after all the things he’s done for the country, some of which he didn’t actually do. And he falsely credited his daughter with creating 14 million jobs when it’s not clear she’s created any.

Meantime Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg came out with an energy plan that claimed he was personally responsible for much of the decline of the coal industry. He wasn’t.

A sampling of the past week’s political rhetoric:

JOBS
TRUMP, on his daughter, Ivanka: “She has been so extraordinary, in terms of her advocacy for America’s working families. Fourteen million people she’s gotten jobs for, where she would go into Walmart, she would go into our great companies and say, ‘They really want help. They really want you to teach them.’ … She’s done over 14 million.” — remarks Thursday at White House meeting on child care and paid leave.

THE FACTS: His daughter hasn’t created 14 million jobs. The U.S. has only created 6.6 million jobs since Trump took office.

The president is referring to a White House initiative led by Ivanka Trump that has garnered nonbinding commitments from 370 companies to provide 14 million training opportunities in the years ahead. Training for a job is not working at a job for money.

There are questions about how much the administration is willing to spend to help U.S. workers, whether the agreements by companies will result in higher salaries and whether employers will stick to their pledges if the economy sours and they have less incentive to invest in employees.

By having companies sign the pledge, the administration is relying on the private sector to take on more of the financial burden of training workers.

The government spends just 0.03% of the gross domestic product on job training, a level of support that has been halved since 2000, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Of the 36 countries in the organization, only Japan and Mexico spend less than the U.S. by that measure.

Nor is it clear how many workers were already going to be trained, absent the initiative. In many cases, the pledge simply confers a presidential seal of approval on what some companies are doing anyway.

COAL & CLIMATE
BLOOMBERG says he “helped close more than half the nation’s dirty coal plants.” — energy plan announcement Friday.

BLOOMBERG announcement: “Coal production in the United States is on the decline, thanks to the efforts spearheaded by Mike over the past decade. … In 2011, Mike helped launch the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which has since shuttered more than half — 299 to date — of America’s coal-fired power plants, and counting.”

THE FACTS: Bloomberg is taking sweeping, unearned credit for the decline of coal. Market forces, not his money, influence and activism, put coal on this inexorable path.

Drops in prices of natural gas and renewable energy have made costlier coal-fired power plants much less competitive for electric utilities. A new federal report reaffirms that long-standing consensus among experts.

U.S. coal production has fallen steadily since its peak in 2008. That’s due largely to a boom in oil and gas production from U.S. shale, begun under the Obama administration, that made natural gas far more abundant and cheaper. Also, advances in technology have spurred wind and solar energy production.

Bloomberg’s energy plan calls for constraints on the expansion of natural gas, the primary fuel driving coal’s decline. He proposes making rules for new gas plants so tough that energy companies would not want to build them.

IMPEACHMENT
TRUMP: “By the way, a guy like Sondland __ nobody ever says it __ he said very strongly that I said, ‘I want nothing’ and ‘no quid pro quo.’ Nobody says that. That’s what he said. He said it in Congress. Nobody ever says that.” — remarks Friday with Paraguayan President Abdo Benítez.

THE FACTS: That’s a decidedly partial account of the testimony that Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, gave to House investigators.

As one of the officials most deeply involved in trying to get Ukraine to do Trump’s bidding, Sondland testified that there was indeed a quid pro quo in the matter and “everyone was in the loop.” Specifically, he said it was understood that Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, would only get a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office if Zelenskiy publicly pledged to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the Democrats.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ Sondland asked in his statement to the House Intelligence Committee. ”As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Moreover, on the more serious matter of withholding military aid to Ukraine unless it investigated Democrats, Sondland testified that a this-for-that explanation was the only one that made sense to him.

“I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian company on whose board Hunter Biden served.

Testimony from other officials shored up the picture of a president and his associates systematically trying to get Ukraine to do what Trump wanted during a period when the military assistance approved by Congress was put on hold without explanation. Sondland said Trump told him on the phone that he was asking nothing of Ukraine. But it is plain from his testimony that Sondland did not believe him.

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TRUMP: “They didn’t even know probably that we had it transcribed, professionally transcribed, word for word transcribed. So beautiful. Am I lucky I had it transcribed? Think of that. Think of that.” — Pennsylvania rally Tuesday.

THE FACTS: No, the White House memo describing Trump’s phone conversation with Zelenskiy was not “word for word.”

It was presented by the White House as a rough transcript. The public does not know precisely what each leader said.

Officials who were tasked to listen in to the call say the rough transcript is largely accurate in representing the material aspects of the conversation as they heard it.

One such witness testified that some quotations in the account were not exact, though he did not consider the variance to be consequential.

For example, a question remains whether Trump or Zelenskiy named Burisma in their conversation.

In the rough transcript, Zelenskiy said he would have his prosecutor “look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned,” and Trump spoke of a situation that “sounds horrible to me” involving Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, explicitly. Whether Burisma was mentioned or not, there is no doubt what company was being discussed.

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TRUMP: “”How do you get Impeached when you have done NOTHING wrong (a perfect call), have created the best economy in the history of our Country, rebuilt our Military, fixed the V.A. (Choice!), cut Taxes & Regs, protected your 2nd A, created Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and soooo much more? Crazy!” — tweet Friday.

THE FACTS: He didn’t do all of that.

He refers to Choice, a program that allows veterans under some conditions to go outside the Veterans Affairs health care system and seek private care at public expense. President Barack Obama enacted the law creating the program.

Trump routinely tries to take credit for his predecessor’s VA achievement. Trump expanded Obama’s Choice program.

Trump is also wrong in saying the U.S. economy is the best ever. It is not that.

The economy grew 2.9% in 2018, the same pace it reached in 2015 under Obama, and it hasn’t hit historically high growth rates. Growth reached 7.2% in 1984 and topped 4% for four straight years in the late 1990s. The unemployment rate is at a half-century low of 3.5% but the proportion of Americans with a job was higher in the 1990s.

Trump is right that he’s cut taxes and regulations and increased military spending, and there’s been little movement on gun control.

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TRUMP: “They don’t even allege a crime. Crazy!” — tweet Thursday.

TRUMP: “There were no crimes. They’re impeaching me, and there are no crimes.” — Pennsylvania rally Tuesday.

Rep. STEVE CHABOT of Ohio, Republican on the House Judiciary Committee: “This president isn’t even accused of committing a crime.” — impeachment hearing Thursday.

Rep. DOUG COLLINS of Georgia, top Republican on the committee: “We don’t have a crime.” — hearing Monday.

THE FACTS: Republicans gave this misleading defense until the bitter end of the impeachment hearings and it will be heard again as the process unfolds. The constitutional grounds for impeachment do not require a statutory crime to have been committed.

In setting the conditions of treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors, the Founding Fathers said a consequential abuse of office was subject to the impeachment process they laid out. As such, the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard is vague and open-ended to encompass abuses even if they aren’t illegal.

Democrats this past week released two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid as leverage; and obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the House’s investigation.

Frank Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and author of “A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump,” said that while it seems “almost commonsensically right” that the House shouldn’t impeach unless there’s a crime, that has not been the requirement in more than 600 years of British and American law.

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STEVE CASTOR, Republican counsel for the House Judiciary Committee: “At the time of the July 25 call, senior officials in Kyiv did not know the security assistance was paused. They did not learn it was paused until the pause was reported publicly in the U.S. media on Aug. 28.” — hearing Monday.

THE FACTS: That’s misleading. Ukrainians knew or at least suspected that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid were frozen when the call took place, according to testimony heard by House investigators.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense, told the House Intelligence Committee last month that her staff received an email on July 25 from a contact at Ukraine’s Embassy asking “what was going on with Ukraine’s security assistance.” That’s the same day Trump spoke by phone with Zelenskiy and pressed for an investigation of Democrats.

Cooper said she “cannot say for certain” that Ukraine was aware the aid was being withheld, but said, “It’s the recollection of my staff that they likely knew.”

Republicans have argued there couldn’t be a “quid pro quo” — investigations into Democrats in exchange for military aid — if Ukrainians weren’t aware of a hold on the aid at the time. Even so, Zelenskiy knew months before the call that much-needed U.S. military support might depend on whether he was willing to help Trump by investigating Democrats.

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Democratic Rep. JERROLD NADLER of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: “Multiple witnesses — including respected diplomats, national security professionals, and decorated war veterans — all testified to the same basic fact: President Trump withheld the aid and the meeting in order to pressure a foreign government to do him that favor. … These facts are not in dispute.” — hearing Monday.

THE FACTS: He’s right that plentiful testimony points to Trump conditioning military aid to Ukraine on the investigation he wanted Ukraine to conduct on Democrats. But is it a rock-solid case?

None of the witnesses who testified in House Intelligence Committee hearings last month could personally attest that Trump directly tied the release of the military aid to an agreement from Ukraine to conduct the investigations.

Sondland testified to a “quid pro quo” that involved arranging a White House visit for Zelenskiy in return for Ukraine announcing investigations of Burisma and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But Sondland says no one told him that hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Ukraine were similarly contingent on satisfying Trump’s request for investigations. He said he simply presumed that was the case, based in part on the absence of any other credible explanation.

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION
TRUMP, on former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page: “This poor guy. Did I hear he needed a restraining order after this whole thing to keep him away from Lisa? That is what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true.” — Pennsylvania rally.

THE FACTS: He’s passing on baseless innuendo about FBI employees who exchanged texts criticizing him.

___
TRUMP: “They spied on my campaign!” — tweet Wednesday.

TRUMP: “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” — tweet May 17, 2019.

THE FACTS: The Justice Department watchdog report released Monday doesn’t use “spied” or “treason.”

But it’s certainly the case that some of the investigative steps the report describes supports the fact that some of Trump’s campaign staffers were under surveillance.

Although the report says the FBI did not place any confidential human sources inside the campaign, it did task several of its sources to interact with multiple campaign officials. Those include Carter Page and campaign aide George Papadopoulos — during and after their times on the campaign — as well as an unidentified “high-level” campaign official who was not a subject of the investigation.

The report says that the use of those sources, though brushing up against protected First Amendment speech, followed protocol.

It also rejects one of Papadopoulos’ theories that he was framed.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, has alleged that a Maltese professor who told him that Russia possessed stolen Hillary Clinton emails — a revelation that initiated the investigation — was some sort of intelligence asset or perhaps even worked with the FBI.

But the report says the FBI searched its database of confidential human sources and found no evidence suggesting that the professor, Joseph Mifsud, was one of them, “or that Mifsud’s discussions with Papadopoulos were part of an FBI operation.”

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Mark Sherman, Darlene Superville and Cal Woodward contributed to this report.





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Australian Coal Company Says Bush-Fire Smoke Is Slowing Production

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SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s biggest mining company, BHP, announced on Tuesday that coal output was down at one of its large mines. The reason? Smoke from the country’s ferocious wildfires — a crisis fed by climate change, which is caused in no small part by the burning of coal.

The reduced air quality in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, has helped slow the company’s production of electricity-generating coal by 11 percent there, BHP said in a review of its midyear financial results.

“We are monitoring the situation, and if air quality continues to deteriorate, then operations could be constrained further in the second half of the year,” said the company, which ends its fiscal year on June 30.

The irony was not lost on many in Australia.

The country, which just endured its hottest and driest year on record, has been dealing for months with bush fires that have killed at least 29 people, ravaged tens of millions of acres, and left residents in its largest cities wheezing from the most polluted air in the world.

“You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!” Terry Serio, an actor and musician, said on Twitter.

“I did roll my eyes,” Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, a policy institute, said in an interview.

The smoke, Dr. Hare said, was most likely a minor inconvenience in the supply chain for BHP, the globe’s biggest mining company. But, he added, it served as a “wake-up call” to BHP that the world needs to wean itself off coal to avert the most damaging effects of climate change.

“You can see the mood is changing in Australia,” Dr. Hare said. “Sooner or later, the companies are going to run out of social license.”

A BHP spokesman said that smoke from the bush fires had reduced visibility and made equipment harder to operate at the Mount Arthur coal site 150 miles north of Sydney.

In addition, some employees have taken leave from work to protect their properties from fires or to serve as volunteer firefighters.





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Donald Trump’s Senate trial likely to further tear at national divides

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Democrats are furious at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan for the trial, which will force House impeachment managers to deliver their case in two marathon 12-hour sessions that could stretch into the middle of the night. Trump’s legal team will then have equal time to respond. The opening arguments are expected to begin Wednesday afternoon.

The blueprint could lead to the President being acquitted within a matter of days, which may also satisfy his demands for the trial to be over before he heads to Capitol Hill for his State of the Union address on February 4.

“It’s clear Senator McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on Monday evening.

“On something as important as impeachment, Senator McConnell’s resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace. … Senator McConnell’s resolution stipulates that key facts be delivered in the wee hours of the night simply because he doesn’t want the American people to hear them.”

Schumer vowed to challenge the Kentucky Republican’s plan with amendments on Tuesday at the start of the trial. Democrats are expected to try to force an early vote on the issue of calling new witnesses, a step that is provided for in McConnell’s resolution at the end of the grueling process of prosecution and defense presentations.

The fact that McConnell’s resolution includes language on potential votes over witnesses appears to be an attempt to navigate between Trump’s demands for a swift acquittal and the desire of vulnerable swing-state Republican senators to avoid offering the impression that the trial is not fair.

Trump is facing two articles of impeachment, alleging abuse of power in Ukraine and obstruction of Congress, after he intervened to stop key officials from testifying to the House investigation before he was formally impeached in December.

The trial is an emblem of wider political divides

Republicans on the spot as Senate braces for impeachment drama

The disputes over process at the start of only the third impeachment trial of a president reflect America’s internal political estrangement, which has been exacerbated by a presidency built on exploiting societal fault lines.

Because everybody accepts that the President is almost certain to be acquitted, each smaller battle in the trial takes on extra political importance.

Democrats want to call new witnesses including former national security adviser John Bolton, who branded Trump’s unofficial envoy to Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani, as a “hand grenade,” and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who essentially confirmed a quid pro quo in Ukraine in public.

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland called for a process that allows testimony from key witnesses under oath.

“How can you have a fair trial if you don’t hear from witnesses who have direct knowledge to the key facts?” Cardin said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

But Republicans are threatening to match such demands with subpoenas for former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter — despite the lack of any evidence that either was involved in corruption in Ukraine.

A new CNN/SSRS poll published Monday highlights the pressure on Republican senators — such as Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Maine’s Susan Collins and Arizona’s Martha McSally — who face tough reelection races.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said the trial should feature testimony from new witnesses who did not appear in the House impeachment hearings. The poll also explains the wider political dynamics around the trial.

About half of Americans — 51% — say Trump should be removed from office. But his approval rating remains at a steady 43%. The fact that only 8% of Republicans think Trump should be kicked out of the Oval Office helps explain why there is no two-thirds Senate majority to eject him.

There are already suspicions that McConnell’s conditions for the prosecution and defense cases each to be presented in two 12-hour blocks are an attempt to hide the most damning allegations against Trump in late-night sittings.

Cardin suggested the plan may be designed to “saturate the hours so people don’t pay attention and try to get this over quickly rather than allowing a fair trial to take place.”

The dispute over witnesses who Democrats say are needed to ensure the trial offers a “fair” examination of Trump’s alleged offenses is merely a symptom of the unbridgeable chasms between Republicans and Democrats.

In a sign that McConnell’s rules will likely prevail, one moderate Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said he would support them and pointed out that they did guarantee a vote on witnesses.

“Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,” Alexander said in a statement.

“We have a constitutional duty to hear the case. That means to me, No. 1, hear the arguments on both sides, and not dismiss the case out of hand. No. 2, ask our questions, consider the answers and study the record. No. 3, be guaranteed a right to vote on whether we need additional evidence. Evidence could be documents; it could be witnesses; or there could be no need for additional evidence,” he said.

But there’s no agreement even on basic facts: The rough transcript of a call that appears to show Trump leaning on Ukraine’s President for dirt on Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 rival, is touted by the President and his supporters as “perfect.”

There’s not even a common understanding of the meaning of impeachment itself. Trump’s defense will be anchored on an argument that Congress’ ultimate sanction against a president requires the commission of a crime.

But many scholars believe historical evidence shows the founders meant for the “high crimes and Misdemeanors” phrase in the Constitution to encompass abuses of the public trust by presidents using their power for personal gain.

In keeping with the tone of the Trump presidency, the White House defense brief released on Monday does not fully engage with the mountains of evidence suggesting troubling presidential conduct unearthed by the House impeachment inquiry.

It instead uses sloganeering and insults to blast the impeachment as a “charade” and claims that it is a “dangerous perversion” of the Constitution.

The clashes at the start of the trial also exemplify another dominant political theme of the era, of how a Senate Republican caucus that is ruthlessly competent in wielding power is in lockstep with a President who harbors an expansive vision of his own largely unrestrained authority.

At its root, the trial will raise a profound question about a core principle of American democracy — whether the checks and balances that prevent one branch of government becoming too powerful are now unfit for that purpose.

Democrats reject Trump’s defense

Trump's legal team argues impeachment process a 'charade'

In a new pretrial brief filed on Monday, House Democratic impeachment managers pushed back on Trump’s response to the Senate summons, in which his lawyers argued that he had acted within his rights in Ukraine.

“President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion,” the nine-page brief said.

“The Framers deliberately drafted a Constitution that allows the Senate to remove Presidents who, like President Trump, abuse their power to cheat in elections, betray our national security, and ignore checks and balances,” the House managers wrote. “That President Trump believes otherwise, and insists he is free to engage in such conduct again, only highlights the continuing threat he poses to the Nation if allowed to remain in office.”

Trump’s legal team laid out the most detailed summary of its defense on Monday.

“The Senate should speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president,” the brief said.

“The Articles themselves — and the rigged process that brought them here — are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected,” the 110-page brief argues.

The President’s lawyers also construct a new argument that he was well within his powers to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden.

“House Democrats’ accusations rest on the false and dangerous premise that Vice President Biden somehow immunized his conduct (and his son’s) from any scrutiny by declaring his run for the presidency,” the lawyers write. “There is no such rule of law. It certainly was not a rule applied when President Trump was a candidate. His political opponents called for investigations against him and his children almost daily.”

Such arguments are why many Democrats are wary of any step that could lead Hunter Biden to testify, as it could satisfy Trump’s hope of dirtying the former vice president’s image ahead of a possible November election duel.

Trump’s claim that the impeachment is invalid because it does not charge a criminal offense is also a controversial position. It is expected to be laid out by veteran Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.

Impeachment attorney and CNN legal analyst Ross Garber faulted the constitutional grounds for Dershowitz’s argument.

“I’m not sure of anybody who defended more impeachments than I have. And even I think Dershowitz is wrong on this. I don’t think you need a technical criminal violation for there to be an impeachable offense,” Garber said.



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China confirms fourth coronavirus death, as WHO prepares to meet | News

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The senior health official investigating an outbreak of pneumonia in China stemming from a new coronavirus has said the disease can spread from person to person but can be halted with increased vigilance, as authorities confirmed the fourth death from the infection.

Zhong Nanshan, the head of the National Health Commission, said there was no danger of a repeat of 2002’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic that killed nearly 800 people across the world, as long as precautions were taken.

“It took only two weeks to identify the novel coronavirus,” state news agency Xinhua quoted Zhong as saying late on Monday.

More:

Earlier, Zhong acknowledged patients may have contracted the new virus without having visited the central city of Wuhan where the infection is thought to have originated in a seafood market.

“Currently, it can be said it is affirmative that there is the phenomenon of human-to-human transmission,” he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV.

A fourth person died on January 19, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on Tuesday. The 89-year-old man, who had underlying health diseases including coronary heart disease, developed symptoms on January 13 and was admitted to hospital five days later, it added.

Outbreak spreads

The outbreak has spread from the central city of Wuhan to cities including Beijing and Shanghai, with more than 200 cases reported so far. Four cases have been confirmed outside China – in South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Australia on Tuesday said it would screen passengers on flights from Wuhan amid rising concerns that the virus will spread globally as Chinese travellers take flights abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday that starts this week.

A man showing symptoms of the new disease who had travelled to Wuhan was in isolation as health officials awaited test results, public broadcaster ABC reported on Tuesday

“The outbreak could perhaps not have come at a worse time,” said Al Jazeera’s Katrina Wu, who is in Beijing.

“This is the peak travel season in China. The government has always boasted that during the Lunar New Year you see two to three billion trips being made across the country and Wuhan is not a small city; it’s about 11 million people who will be travelling not only in China, but overseas. It’s a major transport hub.”  

Authorities around the globe, including in the United States and many Asian countries, have stepped up the screening of travellers from Wuhan.

China virus

China says it has stepped up surveillance and quarantine measures as it tries to stop a new coronavirus from spreading further [Stringer/Reuters]

Zhong, the head of the National Health Commission, said two people in Guangdong province in southern China caught the disease from family members who had visited Wuhan.

He added that 14 medical staff helping with coronavirus patients had also been infected.

The Wuhan virus causes a type of pneumonia and belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as SARS. Symptoms include fever and difficulty in breathing, which are similar to many other respiratory diseases and pose complications for screening efforts.

SARS originated in southern China in 2002 and spread to 26 countries across the world over the following months, infecting more than 8,000 people before it was brought under control, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO, which is due to hold an emergency meeting on the outbreak on Wednesday, has said an animal source appeared most likely to be the primary origin of the Wuhan outbreak

Enhanced screening

South Korea on Monday reported its first case of the new coronavirus – a 35-year-old woman who had flown in from Wuhan.

Thailand and Japan previously confirmed a total of three cases – all of whom had visited the Chinese city.

China New Year

The outbreak is spreading as China gears up for the Lunar New Year festival when hundreds of thousands of people visit family or take holidays [File: Aly Song/Reuters]

WHO has said the jump in new cases was the result of “increased searching and testing for [the virus] among people sick with respiratory illness”.

Wuhan authorities said they have installed infrared thermometers at airports, and railway and coach stations across the city. Passengers with fever were being registered, given masks and taken to medical institutions.

Chinese state media moved to calm the mood as discussion swelled on social media about the coronavirus spreading to other Chinese cities.

Weighing in on the matter for the first time, China’s President Xi Jinping said on Monday that safeguarding people’s lives should be given “top priority” and that the spread of the epidemic “should be resolutely contained”, according to CCTV.

Xi said it was necessary to “release information on the epidemic in a timely manner and deepen international cooperation”, and ensure people have a “stable and peaceful Spring Festival”, the broadcaster said.





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