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With critical medical supply shortage, health workers force to re-use protective gear

Overseas passengers flying to Beijing may be quarantined in Inner Mongolia

Overseas passengers flying to Beijing may have to quarantine in Inner Mongolia — an autonomous region of northern China — if they have the coronavirus or have been in close contact with anyone that does, local news reported Saturday.

The Chinese capital is rerouting flights to three other cities as it tries to prevent fresh outbreaks started by infected people arriving from abroad. One is Hohhot — the capital of China’s Inner Mongolia region — about 250 miles northwest of Beijing. The other cities are Tianjin and Taiyuan.

This comes as China has recently reported a slow-down in domestic cases, and more internationally imported cases — more than 80 in recent weeks.

As of Saturday, Wuhan — the virus outbreak’s epicenter — reported no new or suspected cases for a third straight day. It even allowed some businesses to reopen.

Weekend curfew begins in Sri Lanka as South Asia accelerates battle against virus

Mosques in Sri Lanka were shut indefinitely on Friday, as the island imposed a countrywide curfew across the whole weekend until Monday, as South Asian countries step up efforts to check the spread of COVID-19 cases.

The densely populated region of some 1.9 billion people has been less badly affected than other parts of the world, but new cases in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka have all been accelerating recently. The total cases across South Asia now exceeding 750 and seven people have died in the region.

India’s western state of Maharashtra has also decided to close all shops and offices except those providing essential services — including in India’s financial capital Mumbai — until the end of the month.

Authorities worry that these countries could be especially at risk, should the virus begin to spread locally, due to poor health facilities and infrastructure in much of the region.

U.N. officials warn of risk to 100M people in war zones

The United Nations says consequences of the coronavirus could be devastating for the 100 million people living in war zones and other emergency settings.

It noted many people are living in cramped conditions with little or no access to proper sanitation and basic health services.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said humanitarian officials are concerned people who depend on U.N. assistance are able to keep getting life-saving help while trying to avoid “the catastrophic impact that the COVID-19 outbreak could have on them.”

He said U.N. humanitarian officials will be launching an appeal for funds early next week to deal with the coronavirus threat. The U.N. has already released $15 million from its emergency fund to deal with the coronavirus in vulnerable areas, and U.N.-managed funds in Afghanistan, Sudan and Jordan have also been released to scale up preparedness.

Wuhan to allow some businesses to re-open

BEIJING — While entry and exit from Wuhan remains tightly restricted, businesses such as supermarkets, convenience stores and shops selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other daily necessities can re-open.

Only one person per household bearing a special pass can go out each day, with shopping time limited to two hours.

Wuhan, the virus outbreak’s epicenter, reported no new or suspected cases for a third straight day.

Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang on Friday urged “efforts to stabilize and support market entities to strengthen the engines for economic recovery,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Li “stressed a stronger sense of urgency on the work and production resumption, as well as the recovery of economic and social order,” including financial assistance to small and medium-size enterprises that form a core source of employment and key links in supply chains.

“Unreasonable restrictions that hinder the resumption of work” should be lifted, Li said. “With effective prevention and control measures, necessary health monitoring and emergency response forces in place, epidemic prevention and work resumption can be advanced in a synchronized way.”

Among measures to help people find new jobs, the central government has launched a website that it hopes will help fill 10 million vacancies by the end of June.

Residents in Anchorage, Alaska, told to ‘hunker down’

The residents of Alaska’s largest city on Friday were told to “hunker down” as much as possible to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the order, effective Sunday through March 31, is necessary so the health care system does not get overwhelmed, noting that the city is the medical center for the state and that “we are the only game in town for thousands of miles.”

Several states and cities have made similar moves as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States increases. Anchorage has four positive cases, all of them considered travel-related, and the state overall has 12, according to Alaska’s health department.

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