‘Thermometer guns,’ used on the outbreak’s front lines, are known to misfire.
It has become an iconic image of the coronavirus outbreak in China: a masked official aiming what appears to be a small white pistol at a traveler’s forehead.
For weeks, these ominous-looking devices have been deployed at checkpoints across China — tollbooths, apartment complexes, hotels, grocery stores, train stations — as government officials and private citizens screen people for fevers in an effort to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
But experts say the “thermometer guns” are unlikely to stop the outbreak.
The thermometers determine temperature by measuring the heat emanating from the surface of a person’s body. Often, however, those wielding the tools don’t hold them close enough to the subject’s forehead, generating unusually low temperature readings, or hold them too close and get a high reading. The measurements can be imprecise in certain environments, like a dusty roadside, or when someone has taken medication to suppress a fever.
“These devices are notoriously not accurate and reliable,” said James Lawler, a medical expert at the University of Nebraska’s Global Center for Health Security. “Some of it is quite frankly for show.”
China reports more than 2,000 new cases and 139 deaths, most in Hubei.
Infections and deaths continued to climb after the government this week changed the criteria by which it tracks cases. Officials early Saturday reported 2,641 new coronavirus cases and 143 additional deaths in the previous 24 hours.
Most of the new cases and deaths were reported in Hubei Province, the center of the epidemic
In all, more than 66,000 people have been infected and at least 1,523 have died worldwide. The vast majority of cases, and all but a few of the deaths, have been in mainland China, with the heaviest concentration there in Hubei, the center of the epidemic.
The tally in Hubei jumped drastically on Thursday after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases. The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.
Seeking to protect the city from a major outbreak, Beijing imposes new quarantine rules.
Chinese state-run television announced on its website on Friday evening that everyone returning to Beijing would be required to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Anyone who does not comply “shall be held accountable according to law,” according to a text of the order released by state television. The order was issued by a Communist Party “leading group” at the municipal level, not the national Communist Party.
It was the latest sign that China’s leaders were still struggling to set the right balance between restarting the economy and continuing to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the country’s top officials met and issued orders that included a mandate to help people to return to workplaces from their hometowns. Tens of millions had gone home to celebrate Lunar New Year holidays before the government acknowledged the seriousness of the epidemic. They have faced local government checkpoints on the way back to work and then lengthy quarantines upon their return to big cities.
But while national leaders may be worried that travel restrictions and quarantines may be preventing companies from finding enough workers to resume full production, that did not stop Beijing municipal leaders from further tightening controls on Friday.
The policy may reduce the chances that people returning from the hinterlands could infect the country’s elite.
The new rules also require those returning to the city to give advance warning of their arrival to the authorities in their residential area. China maintained extensive controls on citizens’ movements under Mao, and some of the institutions and rules from that period have been re-emerging lately.
Even before Beijing issued its new rules, so-called neighborhood committees had been playing an increasingly assertive role across the country, including in Shanghai. They have been demanding that recent returnees isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival, venturing out for little except food.
A patient fell ill while on vacation in Hawaii.
A man who became ill while on a vacation in Hawaii has tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said. The man, who is in his 60s, had returned to his home in Japan, where he received the diagnosis this week.
The man, who traveled to Hawaii with his wife in late January and early February, fell ill during the second week of the vacation, while the couple were staying at a time-share in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. Before that, the couple had been in Maui, but the man showed no symptoms while he was there.
Officials said that the man began showing symptoms on Feb. 3, and wore a mask when he went outside the time-share, the Grand Waikikian. Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, said that the man was most likely infected either before he came to Hawaii or while he was on his way to Hawaii in late January.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is an emergency physician, said in an interview on Friday that the authorities were contacting the management at the guest facilities where the man stayed, as well as those who were working there.
“The only way to do this right is to contact everyone,” he said. “We are not worried about minimal contact, but those who had extensive contact will be given whatever support is necessary.”
Anthea Kreston, an acclaimed American violinist, has been giving Yunhe Tang, a talented Chinese 14-year-old, lessons via Skype once a week since last summer. But something seemed very wrong this month: He had not practiced, and he always practices.
The teenager, who prefers the name Kevin, lives in Chengdu, one of dozens of Chinese cities that are effectively on lockdown because of the coronavirus crisis. Schools are closed for the rest of the month and most businesses are struggling to reopen. Kevin’s family is healthy, but he has mostly been stuck inside.
Ms. Kreston said she couldn’t stop thinking about Kevin, and decided to help take his mind off the lockdown. She messaged his family and asked if they would like to temporarily step up Kevin’s lessons at no extra cost. As long as he was shut indoors, she wanted to have daily contact with him, and run a kind of violinist’s boot camp. The family agreed.
Kevin’s challenge would be to learn a new concerto — Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” — in a few weeks, something she said would normally take 100 days. Ms. Kreston also gave him daily exercises to practice.
Two weeks into the boot camp, Kevin is feeling much better, though he longs for the outdoors. He now practices four hours every day, and said his technique has improved and his sound has become more beautiful.
“The virus is terrible,” Kevin said, “but music gives us the confidence to overcome.”
Reporting was contributed by David Yaffe-Bellany, Keith Bradsher, Claire Fu, Alex Marshall and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs.