Wuhan virus: China to extend Lunar New Year holidays, state broadcaster CCTV says

A man wears a protective face mask to help stop the spread of a deadly coronavirus which originated in the central city of Wuhan, as he walks on the outskirts of the Forbidden City, on Jan 25, 2020.
A man wears a protective face mask to help stop the spread of a deadly coronavirus which originated in the central city of Wuhan, as he walks on the outskirts of the Forbidden City, on Jan 25, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's Cabinet announced it will extend the Lunar New Year holidays to February 2, to strengthen the prevention and control of the new coronavirus, state broadcaster CCTV reported early on Monday (Jan 27).

The holidays had been due to end on Jan 30.

Schools that are currently in recess will also extend their holidays, but the specific dates will be announced by the Ministry of Education, CCTV said.

Meanwhile, China is testing an HIV drug as a treatment for symptoms of the new coronavirus that is rapidly spreading, said drugmaker AbbVie Inc on Sunday.

China health authorities requested the drug to help with the government's efforts to address the crisis, according to Adelle Infante, a spokeswoman for North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie.

Aluvia, which is also known as Kaletra, is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir. In guidance published on Thursday, the government said there is no effective anti-virus medicine but suggested taking two lopinavir/ritonavir pills and inhaling a dose of nebulised alpha-interferon twice a day.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after more than 2,000 people were infected in China and 56 have died after contracting the virus.

Separately, Alibaba's Taobao marketplace said on Sunday that it has removed sales of face masks from shops that show "unstable prices or false advertising," as prices for the products surged as Chinese consumers race to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak.

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.