Three cases of Coronavirus confirmed in Tibet, monasteries shut down

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By Tenzin Dharpo

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 27: The deadly outbreak of the coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan has reached occupied Tibet with three confirmed cases reported in Kardze (Ch. Garze county) in the traditional Khamregion in western Sichuan Province.

The Kardze County Television’s Tibetan section recently aired a public health advisory where it confirmed that a person carrying the virus has infected two others, all of whom are now being treated.

The virus has no confirmed cases in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province as of now although the Chinese government has directed all monasteries in Tibet to be shut down beginning Monday and instructed pilgrims and worshippers against visiting temples and monasteries until further notice. Major sites like the Potala palace, Norbulinga palace and the Tsuglakhang temple in Lhasa city are all shut down.

While no cases of the virus have been reported in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province where two major airports in Lhasa and Xining are located in occupied Tibet, some exile Tibetans say that China is deliberately making Tibetans vulnerable to the virus with flights from Wuhan to the two airports still in service despite Beijing announcing that the Wuhan airport is shut down earlier last week.

The death toll has jumped to at least 80 on Monday with thousands of new cases reported by the day in China. Across China there are 2,744 confirmed cases, of which 1,423 cases were in Hubei as of Monday. Chinese netizens in Wuhan which is ground zero for the ailment, however, say the numbers could be much higher as anger grows against the government for the lack of efficiency in handling the outbreak.

The ailment has also spread to other countries with Thailand and Hong Kong have each reported eight cases of infection; the United States, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five each; Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia each have reported four; France has three; Canada and Vietnam have two, and Nepal has one. No deaths have been reported outside of China yet.

The Dharamshala headquartered Tibetan Institute of Medicine and Astrology known as Men-Tsee-Khang, the traditional Tibetan medicine has come out with a preventive pill by the name of Rinchen Gujor Rinnag Chenmo that claims to counter the spread of any viral outbreak. The same pill was highly in demand back in 2003 when SARS virus killed around 800 people in China and worldwide. Many Tibetans here at Men-Tse-Khang’s clinic have lined up to purchase the pill to be sent to relatives in Tibet. Stock for the highly prized pill has run out and fresh batches are being produced, sources said.

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