Buses carrying evacuees from China – taking 70 people to be quarantined – were disrupted by a hoard of demonstrators in the village of Novi Sanzhary in the central Poltava region, who lit bonfires, barricaded a road leading to the designated quarantine zone and threw rocks at the vehicles, shattering windows on one of the buses. Although none of the passengers were hurt, nine officers – among hundreds of those who were dispatched to keep order – and one civilian needed hospital treatment as result of the violent protests.
In response to the uprising and to show solidarity with the evacuees, Ukraine's Health Minister Zoryana Skaletska said she would be joining them in quarantine and would run her ministry by Skype. "I hope that my presence there will calm those in Novi Sanzhary, as well as the rest of the country," she wrote.
And Ukranian President Zelensky urged the protestors to show compassion. "Most of the passengers are people under 30. They are almost like children to many of us," he said. "But there is another danger that I would like to mention. The danger of forgetting that we are all human and we are all Ukrainians. Each of us – including those who ended up in Wuhan during the epidemic."
The Diamond Princess
Following a 14-day quarantine period on the Diamond Princess, during which two passengers who were confirmed to have had underlying health conditions died after contracting the virus, and a total of 620 people onboard tested positive for it, on Wednesday 19 February passengers who had tested negative for the virus were allowed to disembark, with several countries, including Australia, Canada and the UK, organising chartered planes to repatriate their nationals.
However, although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did commend Japan’s quarantine measures, it warned that the rate of new infections onboard the ship posed an ‘ongoing risk’. “To protect the health of the American public, all passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions, preventing them from returning to the US for at least 14 days after they have left the Diamond Princess,” the organisation said.
Japan and the 2020 Olympics
On Monday, Japan’s Health Ministry issued guidelines to help prevent the further spread of the virus and mitigate any impact that Covid-19 would have on the upcoming 2020 Olympics. "We want to ask the public to avoid non-urgent, non-essential gatherings. We want the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions to avoid crowded places," Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said on Sunday. He insisted that as it would be difficult to track the source of the infections, Japan could see a rise in cases. He stressed that it was important for medical facilities to prepare themselves in advance to tackle a potential spread of the infection in Japan.
After a surge of airlines pulled flights to China, dozens of Chinese nationals have been left stranded, unable to return home. And the global airline industry has warned that airlines stand to lose around US$29.3 billion of revenue this year as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that while those outside of Asia are expected to lose $1.5 billion of revenue, airlines in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region are looking at a much larger figure – around $27.8 billion – and carriers in China are set to lose revenue of $12.8 billion in their home market alone.
IATA warns that the economic effect on airlines could still worsen, particularly if the infection spreads further into the APAC region.