Fifty-six people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in China as the country’s leader described the accelerating spread of the disease a grave situation.
It comes as China’s Hubei province reports 13 new deaths from the virus.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China is now at 1,975.
Shanghai reported its first death from the outbreak, while Hubei reported 323 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.
President Xi warns of ‘grave situation’ as Coronavirus infection spreads
Separately, the province of Henan also reported one death from the virus.
The virus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei late last year and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing.
President Xi Jinping told a politburo meeting the country was facing a “grave situation” where the virus is “accelerating its spread”.
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The latest figures reported on Sunday cover the past 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases.
The Chinese government has also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan.
Small numbers of cases have been identified in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia, Malaysia and Canada.
Canada declared that Toronto had identified its first coronavirus case on Saturday – a man in his 50s who recently returned from Wuhan.
France confirmed three cases on Friday, the first in Europe, and the US identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.
The US State Department said it will relocate personnel at its Wuhan consulate to the US, adding it will offer a limited number of seats to private US citizens at greater risk of coronavirus on a flight to San Francisco on Tuesday.
Image: People wearing masks on a train on the first day of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong
Image: China has confirmed 1,975 people infected with coronavirus
While most of the deaths have been older patients, a 36-year-old man in Hubei died on Thursday.
State-run China Global Television Network also confirmed that a doctor who had been treating patients in Wuhan, 62-year-old Liang Wudong, had died from the virus.
Image: Pharmacy workers wearing protective clothes and masks serve customers in Wuhan
Image: Chinese tourists wearing masks walk through the Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Japan
“The individual is stable and is hospitalised” the government said in a statement.
A report on state TV said resources and experts are being concentrated at designated hospitals for treatment of severe cases, with no treatment delayed due to cost, and supplies of materials to Hubei province and its capital Wuhan to be guaranteed.
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China has announced further transport restrictions in a bid to stop the outbreak from spreading, with Hong Kong declaring a virus emergency and scrapping Luna New Year celebrations that began on Saturday.
In the epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, most vehicle use has been banned, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported.
Image: People visit Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong
The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighbourhoods to help people get around if they need to, China Daily said.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency – the highest one – and close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks on top of next week’s Lunar New Year holiday.
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Ms Lam added that direct flights and trains from Wuhan would be blocked.
Hong Kong’s popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean park have closed to help prevent the spread of the outbreak, state media CCTV reported.
The Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks including SARS and Ebola, who arrived in Wuhan late on Friday night to help treat the many patients hospitalised with viral pneumonia.
Two new dedicated hospitals are being built in the city to cope with rising numbers of cases.
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Construction has already started on the first facility, with enough space for 1,000 patients, which is expected to be completed by 3 February.
The second, which is designed to have 1,300 beds, is due to be finished within three weeks.
The Ministry of Commerce is co-ordinating an effort to supply more than two million masks and other products from elsewhere in the country.
The UK Foreign Office is advising against “all travel to Wuhan city”.
It added: “If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so.”
Source : Sky News