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World News

Chinese ‘scammer living in NYC busted trying to defraud $20MILLION in loans meant to help during COVID pandemic’ – The Sun

A CHINESE national living in New York allegedly tried to steal $20million in coronavirus relief money from the federal government and banks.

Muge Ma, 36, was arrested on Thursday after he tried to bilk the money, claiming it was for “small businesses” — when it was really only for him, prosecutors claimed.

Ma, otherwise known as Hummer Mars, allegedly applied for $20million in loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and five banks.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a press release that Ma claimed his two companies employed hundreds of people, and paid them millions of dollars each month.

Prosecutors said Ma provided fake bank records, tax records, payroll records, and financial statements to try to dupe the government.

The man described one of the companies as a “patriotic American firm,” and said the other company would “help the country reduce the high unemployment rate caused by the pandemic by helping unemployed American workers and unemployed American fresh graduates find jobs as quickly as possible.”

The New York Post reported, citing court documents, that Ma built a website for the “companies” that included pictures of him with notable officials, including New York Gov Andrew Cuomo.

Ma also allegedly contacted a Canadian company that makes coronavirus tests and falsely claimed he was a vendor of New York state who buying tests.

But federal prosecutors said Ma “appears to be the only employee of either company and had no legitimate claim to the funds for which he applied.”

His “attempts to secure funds earmarked for legitimate small businesses in dire financial straits are as audacious as they are callous,” the office said.


The SBA ended up giving Ma a $500,000 loan for one company and $150,000 for the other before they learned of his alleged scheme.

A bank gave Ma $800,000 in loans from the Payment Protection Program, but the funds were frozen amid the investigation.

Prosecutors said Ma then tried to withdraw his loan applications from banks and give back the money.

Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement: “Small businesses are facing uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, the least of which should be opportunists attempting to loot the federal funds meant to assist them.”

Ma was charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of making false statements to a bank for the scheme, prosecutors said.

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World News

Chinese hackers suspected of easyJet cyber attack as 9million customers' personal details stolen

CHINESE hackers are believed to be behind a cyber attack on easyJet in which the personal details of nine million customers were stolen.

The news agency Reuters said it had spoken to two sources with knowledge of the incident who claimed the attack had been linked to China.

The discount airline said it will be letting customers know if they have been affected over the next few days.

Cyber crooks stole email addresses and travel details millions of passengers, as well as 2,208 travellers' credit card details.

The sources said the hacking tools and techniques used in the January attack pointed to a group of suspected Chinese hackers that has targeted multiple airlines in recent months.

An easyJet spokeswoman declined to comment on who was responsible for the attack and Reuters could not determine on whose behalf the hackers were working.

The Chinese embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment. Beijing has repeatedly denied conducting offensive cyber operations and says it is frequently the victim of such attacks itself.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the same hackers had previously targeted travel records and other data to track the movement of specific individuals, as opposed to stealing credit card details for financial gain.

"Interest in who is travelling on which routes can be valuable for counter-intelligence or other tracking of persons of interest," said Saher Naumaan, a threat intelligence analyst at BAE Systems, who has investigated similar attacks.

EasyJet, which has currently grounded all flights due to the coronavirus crisis, has said there is no evidence that the stolen details have been used by the criminals.

The airline is yet to confirm exactly when the data breach occurred, but has said that it had closed the online channels used by the hackers.

A statement issued by the airline said: "We're sorry that this has happened, and we would like to reassure customers that we take the safety and security of their information very seriously.

"EasyJet is in the process of contacting the relevant customers directly and affected customers will be notified no later than 26th of May."

Criminals may use the data to target customers with "phishing" scams.

This is where they send out emails, phone calls or text messages, claiming to be from a reputable company in an attempt to trick you into handing over money or your personal details.

EasyJet customers are being urged to stay alert to possible scams over the coming weeks as a result of the cyber attack.

What should I do if I'm an easyJet customer?

EASYJET is contacting customers who have been affected by the data breach in the coming days, no later than May 26.

It has already contacted the 2,208 customers who have had their credit card details stolen.

If you have been affected, you should consider cancelling your credit or debit card and flag the situation to your bank and ActionFraud.

It's also a good idea to update your password for your easyJet account, and any other accounts that you use the same password for.

Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy.com adds: "Consumers are reminded that they should always use strong, unique passwords for each of their accounts so that if anyone account is breached hackers are not able to login to secondary accounts."

Which?'s Adam French adds that you should also keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit reports and flag anything suspicious.

He said: "Be wary of emails or fake "customer support" popping up on social media regarding the breach, as scammers may try to take advantage of it.”

Since 2018, companies must let customers know if their personal details have been exposed within 72 hours of noticing the breach, under GDPR rules.

EasyJet is currently working with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the National Cyber Security Centre.

The airline's boss, Johan Lundgren, said: "We would like to apologise to those customers who have been affected by this incident.

"Since we became aware of the incident, it has become clear that owing to Covid-19 there is heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams.

"As a result, and on the recommendation of the ICO, we are contacting those customers whose travel information was accessed and we are advising them to be extra vigilant, particularly if they receive unsolicited communications.”

GDPR gives consumers the right to claim compensation for data breaches like this but only if you suffer damage as a result, for example, you lost money.

Consumer rights expert at Which? Adam French said: "This breach has exposed the data of millions of EasyJet customers, in some cases including financial details, so they are likely to be worried.

"It is vital that EasyJet provides clear information on what has happened and supports affected customers in taking measures to protect themselves."

Robert Ramsden-Board, from security firm Securonix said: "This breach could have catastrophic consequences such as identity theft, ransomware being downloaded to personal devices that are being used for corporate purposes.

"We will most likely see a series of phishing attacks targeting EasyJet customers in the near future, so all customers should be on the alert for suspicious activity."

Crooks have been cashing in on coronavirus fears by selling unsafe face masks and hand sanitiser.

Tesco and Morrisons have both warned customers not to fall for fake COVID-19 emails claiming to be from the supermarkets.

 

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World News

Chinese school orders pupils to run two hours in 'weight-loss classes'

Chinese school orders students to run two hours every day in ‘weight-loss classes’ to help them improve their fitness after they spent three months at home due to coronavirus closure

  • A school in Jiangsu has forced its students to run almost two hours every day
  • The school said that pupils gained weight after spending three months at home
  • The jogging sessions are aimed to help the returned teenagers to ‘lose some fat’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A school in China has forced its students to run nearly two hours every day during ‘weight-loss classes’ to help the pupils get fit after spending three months at home due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The jogging sessions were introduced by the school principal who said that he noticed the students gained weight after ‘eating and sleeping too well’ at home.

A video filmed Wednesday showed two rows of students running around the field track at the Shuguang Bilingual School in Huai’an, Jiangsu province of eastern China.

It comes as tens of millions of Chinese pupils have returned to the campus following three months of school closure.

A school in China has forced its students to run nearly two hours every day during ‘weight-loss classes’ to help the pupils get fit after spending three months at home

Zhu Yongqian, the school principal, has ordered his students to jog for at least 100 minutes every day to help them ‘lose some timber’ and improve their fitness.

‘After the school restarted, we noticed that a lot of students have gained weight, maybe because they were eating and sleeping too well at home,’ Mr Zhu told the press.

The concerned headteacher introduced the ‘weight-loss classes’ the day after students returned to the school on March 30.

Mr Zhu said that Chinese authorities suggested that pupils should jog no less than 60 minutes every day, but the school felt the need to extend the exercise time due to the coronavirus lockdown.

‘Considering the unusual circumstances this year, we’ve created the plan that students need to run no less than 100 minutes,’ the principal added.

The footage from yesterday showed the headteacher running next to the students on the field track as he cheered them up with a loud speaker.

The school principal can be heard shouting: ‘Keep running! Very good!’

The 100-minute-run is divided into three sessions which are about half an hour long each. Teachers are asked to oversee their students and make sure that they meet the daily target.

‘After a while, we’ve noticed that the students’ fitness has improved and they are more motivated at school,’ Mr Zhu said.

One female student told the press: ‘Our principal suggested us to exercise more. He said that girls would be prettier if they are skinnier.’

Another pupil said that he had lost three kilos (six pounds) after joining the ‘weight-loss classes’.  

Zhu Yongqian (right), the school principal, has ordered his students to jog for at least 100 minutes every day to help them ‘lose some timber’ and improve their fitness

Footage from yesterday showed the headteacher running next to the students on the field track as he cheered them up with a loud speaker

But other Chinese schools have cancelled running tests out of concerns that pupils who hadn’t exercised much during the lockdown would struggle with heavy physical activities. 

Authorities from several major cities – including Tianjin and Shanghai – have cancelled such tests for students this year amid concerns over pupils’ fitness following the school closures.

The provinces of Shaanxi and Zhejiang have also removed running from PE exams while manufacturing hub Shenzhen said it would offer an alternative option for its physical training exam due to the Guangdong provincial government’s decision to leave plans unchanged.

It is believed that at least three students in China died in April during PE lessons after they resumed classes. 

The news comes as life in China has been moving to a post-lockdown phase after the nation sees a steady drop in its active cases.

People are encouraged to resume work as tens of millions of pupils are returning to the campus in the past few weeks.

Students wearing face masks are pictured reading books on a playground of Pingmin middle school on the first day of its reopening on April 25

Pictured, students wearing face masks have a class at a middle school in Shanghai on April 27

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Celebrities

Paul McCartney blames Chinese wet markets amid coronavirus pandemic

Sir Paul McCartney appears to have cast blame on Chinese wet markets for the coronavirus outbreak, and suggests they should be banned.

The Beatles legend, who is known to be an animal lover, weighed in on widespread reports that the Covid-19 virus originated at a market in Wuhan, China. 

Speaking to Howard Stern on Sirius XM this week, Paul said: ‘They might as well be letting off atomic bombs because it’s affecting the whole world. 

‘Whoever is responsible for this is at war with the world and itself.’ 

Suggesting a ban on the wet markets, which sell freshly slaughtered animals, the singer added: ‘I really hope that this will mean the Chinese government says, “Ok guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here”. 

‘Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats. They don’t need all the people dying. And what’s it for? All these medieval practices. They just need to clean up their act. This may lead to it. If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will.’ 

When it was suggested that banning the markets wouldn’t be an easy feat given their history in China, Paul replied: ‘They did slavery forever too, but you have to change things at some point.’ 

Paul, 77, told the radio host that he’s currently self-isolating at his Sussex home away from his wife Nancy Shevell as she was in New York when the lockdown was put in place, so unable to fly to the UK.

Praising the country’s community spirit amid the health crisis, Paul said: ‘A lot of people are pulling together and it is a great thing. It is inspiring.’ 

Last week, Paul joined celebrities such as Elton John, David Beckham and Mick Jagger in thanking the NHS for their tireless work on the frontlines during the fight against coronavirus. 

So far, more than 12,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK while it has claimed the lives of more than 121,000 worldwide. 

What is the coronavirus and where did it start?

Coronaviruses are a family of diseases which include the common cold and the virus which caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which originated in China in 2002 and killed nearly 800 people around the world.

The virus causing concern now is a new strain which has made the jump from animals to people, named Covid-19.

It causes fever and a cough and can make it hard for people to breathe, causing viral pneumonia in severe cases.

Over 2,700 people worldwide have now died after contracting the illness.

How does it affect the lungs?

What are the symptoms of the virus?

The virus is more likely to progress into a severe illness or prove fatal among older patients or those with weakened immune systems.

As it is a viral illness, antibiotics will not help and there is no known cure or vaccine.

A scan shows the lungs of a patient with coronavirus (Picture: Reuters)

To avoid the illness, take usual hygiene precautions, such as using a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes, and making sure to wash your hands.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching things like poles on public transport and avoid close contact with people suffering an acute respiratory infection.

You should also avoid unprotected contact with wild or farm animals.

So far, 13 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK.

Hundreds have been tested for it here, with most of the tests coming back negative.

How many people in the UK have it?

Is Coronavirus in the UK?

Where is Wuhan in China, where coronavirus started?

The virus originated in the city of Wuhan in China, where it is believed to have made the jump from animals to people at a seafood market.

Wuhan is the capital of China’s Hubei province, a landlocked province in central China.

It is built along the Yangtze river, and is around 500 miles west of Shanghai and 690 miles north of Hong Kong.

It is the largest and most populous city in central China, although estimates over its population vary.

Coronavirus latest news and updates

  • Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live
  • Read all new and breaking stories on our Covid-19 news page
  • Coronavirus symptoms explained
  • Find out the latest on which shops can stay open in a lockdown
  • Who needs to go to work, who needs to stay at home and who is classed as a key worker?

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Lifestyle

Chinese students pay $20K for private jet flights out of US as coronavirus spreads

How the coronavirus tides have turned.

Last month, the US government scrambled to help American citizens evacuate China amid the COVID-19 scourge. Now, as Middle Kingdom cases die down and US infections ramp up, wealthy Chinese students are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to escape the United States via private jet.

Shanghai lawyer Jeff Song tells Reuters that he had asked his daughter, a Wisconsin high school student, if she preferred $25,460 or a ticket on a private plane out of the country. “No, Papa, I don’t want the money, I want to go home,” was the frightened girl’s response.

To help worried Chinese expatriates get out of Dodge, the US-based Air Charter Service is arranging fleets of private jets that’ll fly Chinese nationals home for up to $23,000 on a flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai, according to Air Charter PR manager Glenn Phillips. He says the price tag varies “greatly depending on the positioning of the aircraft on the dates and time requested, and the exact route.”

Richard Zaher, CEO of Paramount Business Jets, tells AFP that inquiries “have gone through the roof” with flight reservations up approximately 20 to 25 percent.

Unfortunately, returning home via commercial aircraft is proving increasingly difficult. Beijing, China, recently rerouted overseas flights after a record jump in diagnoses of the coronavirus in Chinese citizens returning home from the US and Europe. Aviation database Variflight reported that on Tuesday, 3,102 out of 3,800 planned commercial flights to and from China were scrapped over coronavirus concerns.

To fly under the Chinese travel authorities’ radar, private plane wingmen are obtaining aircraft from other countries to fly the US-China routes, or arranging transfers in Japan, Reuters reports. Annelies Garcia, commercial director for private jet booking firm PrivateFly, tells the Independent that American educators are even helping Chinese students “looking to group together to arrange a private charter.”

It’s out of the pandemic frying pan and into the fire for Chinese disease refugees, who just this past February were struggling to evacuate China amid nationwide travel restrictions.

Multiple states across the US have enacted quarantines as American cases surpass 60,000, according to Worldmeter. China conversely lifted the lockdown in the pandemic’s origin point of Wuhan, as new infections fell to zero.

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World News

Chinese coronavirus cops wear RoboCop-style helmets with AI cameras to spot patients – The Sun

CHINESE policemen have been equipped with RoboCop-style helmets with AI cameras which can detect people who could have the coronavirus.

The artificial intelligence helmets were designed by technology firm Kuang-chi and have been used in several Chinese cities including Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen.

Read our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates on Covid-19  

They are fitted with a camera which can scan the body temperatures of anyone within a five-metre (16-foot) radius and alert the person wearing them in real-time to anyone with a fever.

Chengdu official Liu Tao, who uses the helmets in his work as an epidemic prevention and control officer, says a small alarm is triggered when somebody is scanned with a body temperature higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius.

The helmet has a speaker which allows it to ‘speak’, telling passersby: “Maximum body temperature is 36.4 degrees Celsius, please pass.”

A small screen is placed in front of the wearer’s eyes and helps them lock onto those people with fevers quickly among crowds.


Lei Tao, who is in charge of the research and development of the helmet, said it can measure body temperatures in milliseconds.

The device can reportedly record the temperatures of over 100 people in under two minutes, doing the work of five or six epidemic prevention workers at once.

The helmet is based on a prototype which was designed for use by cops in combat situations.

China's President Xi Jinping has visited the city of Wuhan – the centre of the coronavirus outbreak – today and said Beijing has the situation under control.

His visit comes as China recorded its lowest number of infections, just 19 on Tuesday, all in Wuhan apart from two who had arrived from overseas, the BBC reports.

China has seen 80,754 confirmed cases – with 3,136 deaths reported.

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World News

Chinese app 'started to censor coronavirus keywords from January 1'

Revealed: Chinese app WeChat ‘started to censor coronavirus-related messages on January 1’ – a week before officials claimed they had identified a new virus

  • Toronto-based research team Citizen Lab made the bombshell claim yesterday
  • Censored content included texts about the virus deemed as ‘rumours’, it is said
  • The app allegedly expanded the scope of censorship as the outbreak escalated
  • It remains unknown if this is an order from the government to media companies
  • The novel coronavirus has killed 3,220 and infected over 94,100 people globally

One of China’s most popular social media apps started to censor messages about the coronavirus a week before officials acknowledged the virus, it has been revealed.

Toronto-based research group Citizen lab released a report yesterday, suggesting that WeChat started to block coronavirus-related content on January 1 and expanded the scope of censorship as the outbreak grew. 

But it wasn’t until January 7 when the Chinese authorities announced they had identified a new virus.

One of China’s most popular social media app, Wechat, started to filter keywords about the coronavirus a week before the officials had acknowledged the virus, according to a new study

The picture shows an overview of the temporary hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus

A Chinese medical worker is pictured checking a patient infected by the novel coronavirus

The report also found the censored messages included criticism of the government, information deemed as rumours as well as references to the Chinese whistle-blower doctor Li Wenliang. 

Some example keyword combinations contained ‘Xi Jinping + Formalism + Epidemic prevention’ and ‘Local authorities + Epidemic + Central (government) + Cover-up’.

The Canadian team created multiple WeChat accounts and scripted group chats to test if any keywords were being filtered. 

Researchers used one account to send messages with coronavirus-related content taken from news articles to test the censorship. The picture shows the scripted chats from Citizen Lab

One of the test accounts, registered under a Chinese mobile number, didn’t receive the messages as they contained the censored keywords. The illustration explains the process

Researchers used one account to send messages with coronavirus-related content taken from news articles. 

One of the test accounts, registered under a Chinese mobile number, didn’t receive the messages as they contained the censored keywords. 

A Chinese live-streaming site YY was also found to have added 45 coronavirus related words to its blacklist on December 31. 

On the same day, China alerted the World Health Organisation to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan. The virus was unknown at the time.

This came a day after Dr Li Wenliang tried to inform the public about the outbreak and was accused of spreading fake news. 

On January 7, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they had identified the virus as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold. It was named 2019-nCoV.

It has remained unknown whether the censorship was an order sent down from the government to social media companies, according to Citizen Lab. 


Li Wenliang, 34, succumbed to the deadly contagion in the early hours of February 7 local time, despite attempts to resuscitate him. The ophthalmologist caught the public’s attention after he was reprimanded by police and accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for warning on social media of ‘SARS at a Wuhan seafood market’. His hospital initially denied reports of his death

Mourners pay their respect to deceased Chinese doctor Li Wenliang during a vigil ceremony in Hong Kong on February 7. The public have accused Dr Li’s hospital of trying to cover up truth

But the study showed it could be the result of companies ‘over-censoring in order to avoid official reprimands’.

Hubei officials were also criticised for withholding information about the infection until the end of last year, despite knowing about the new illness weeks earlier. 

Shandong Province in eastern China was also accused of covering up the true scale of its coronavirus outbreak by seriously under-reporting the number of its daily cases. 

A report revealed the health crisis is up to 52 times worse than officials had admitted. 

A Chinese medical worker is pictured checking a patient infected by the novel coronavirus

The coronavirus has killed at least 3,220 and infected over 94,100 people around the world, with the brunt of the cases in China.

More than 80 nations are now battling the contagion, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected. 

Venice has been left deserted by the coronavirus outbreak with tourists abandoning the usually overcrowded streets and plazas over health fears. 

Tehran announced total infections rose to 2,922 on Wednesday and it was said the country’s most senior VP, Eshaq Jahangiri, was the latest high-profile figure to contract the disease.

A woman is seen wearing a protective face mask while sitting on a London Underground train 

More than 80 nations are now battling the contagion, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected. Italian soldiers are pictured patrolling in the streets of Milan 

Meanwhile South Korea has today declared ‘war’ on the virus as president Moon Jae-in apologised for face mask shortages and ordered them to be stockpiled. 

Confirmed cases in the UK rose to 51 and Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for dealing with the outbreak.

This morning Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said an epidemic in the UK is now likely.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST 16 CASES IN THE UK? 

The Department of Health confirmed three more cases of the coronavirus in England on Saturday, February 29. 

What do we know about them? 

One of them was a member of staff at St Mary’s Primary School in Tetbury in Gloucestershire. They caught the deadly infection in Italy. 

Another was a women who worked at Willow Bank Infant School in Woodley, Berkshire. She also caught the virus in northern Italy.

It is believed the third case was a worker at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood, Hertfordshire. They caught the infection in Asia.

—————————————————- 

Health chiefs then confirmed 13 more cases of the deadly infection on Sunday, March 1 – including the first case in Scotland.

What do we know about them?

Health chiefs said one case was in Essex, warning they had not travelled to any country battling an outbreak – suggesting it had spread in the UK.

Three of the patients were contacts of a man in Haslemere, Surrey, who caught the virus in Britain. One is from Surrey and two are from West Sussex and are part of an ‘adult family cluster’.

Of the other eight cases in England, six were infected in Italy and two were struck down in Iran. 

The DoH said the cases were scattered across London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire.

The Gloucestershire case was one of the six who became infected in Italy, and are thought to have went on the same trip as the county’s first case.

The Greater Manchester case was thought to be a man in Bury, who also caught the virus in Italy and flew home from Milan. 

Two cases were in Leeds and one was in Bradford. The Leeds pair caught the virus in Iran, while the Bradford patient was infected in northern Italy.

One case was a member of staff at Wimbledon College who tested positive after travelling to Italy. 

The other two cases are spread between London and Hertfordshire and will have caught the virus in Italy.

Scotland also confirmed its first case, in a patient in Taysidewho caught the infection in northern Italy.

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World News

Chinese SWAT team practices takedown of ‘coronavirus patient’ with net

New video shows Chinese SWAT teams prepping to take down uncooperative travelers suspected of having the coronavirus — with a net.

Video posted by Storyful shows Tongbai County authorities practicing drills to stop potentially infected people while stationed at a checkpoint in the Henan province Feb. 21.

In a staged exercise, one of the officers checks a driver’s temperature and orders him to step out of the vehicle.

“Please get out of the vehicle to cooperate with our examination,” the officer said, according to Storyful.

But instead, the driver continues on without stopping.

He is then stopped by a police van and surrounded by officers in protective gear carrying riot shields.

When the driver gets out of the car, officers place a net over his head and tackle him to the ground.

“To win the epidemic defense, Tongyang police had armed exercises,” the police bureau wrote on social media along with the clip.

The virus, known as COVID-19, causes mild symptoms such as fever and coughs in most cases but can also lead to death.

Henan has reported at least 1,271 confirmed diagnoses and 19 deaths since the virus emerged in December.

More than 78,000 cases have gripped the country since the outbreak in the central province of Hubei.


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