Coronavirus: Death toll climbs to 106 as China tightens measures

  28 January 2020    Read: 1228
 Coronavirus: Death toll climbs to 106 as China tightens measures @Reuters

The death toll from the new coronavirus now stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day to more than 4,500.

The rise comes as governments scramble to control the spread of the virus. Hong Kong is going to slash cross-border travel with mainland China.

Meanwhile, Japan is sending a plane to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to evacuate its citizens

The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally.

Wuhan, as well as wider Hubei province, are already effectively in a lockdown with strict transport restrictions in and out of the area. Wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some Chinese cities.

On Monday, authorities in Beijing confirmed a 50-year-old man had died - the first fatality in the Chinese capital from the virus.

Hours later, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the high-speed rail line between the territory and mainland China would be suspended from Thursday. Flights, buses and ferry services will also be cut down drastically in an effort to halt the virus's spread to the city - a global financial centre.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province. The initial victims were mostly elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems, but few details have been released about the dozens of deaths confirmed in recent days.

A total of 60 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery, according to Chinese state media.

What steps is China taking?

Efforts to stem the spread of the virus have coincided with the Lunar New Year celebration, which usually sees millions travel across the country to visit relatives and friends.

To try to stop the spread of infections, many of the new year festivities have been suspended and the holiday period has been extended by three days to Sunday.

Chinese authorities have also imposed several other measures in recent days:

  • Beijing and Shanghai introduced a 14-day observation period for people arriving from Hubei
  • Authorities postponed the new semester for schools and universities nationwide, without giving a resumption date
  • China Railway Group suspended hundreds of train lines throughout the country
  • The immigration administration encouraged citizens to reconsider the timing of overseas travel to reduce cross-border movement

In Wuhan, travel from the city of 11 million people has been severely restricted and non-essential vehicles have been banned from the roads.

The city's mayor though said about five million people had already left the city ahead of the holidays and before the lockdown.

Several major cities have suspended public transport systems, taxis and ride-hailing services.

The Disneyland attraction parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong have both been closed.

How is the virus spreading?

The new coronavirus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan and can now spread between people.

Chinese authorities over the weekend said the virus was - like a normal flu - able to spread during its incubation period and before any symptoms appeared.

This would set it apart from cases like Sars and Ebola and make it much harder to contain.

The incubation period can range from two to 10 days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

However unlike China, it said it remained unclear whether the virus was contagious before symptoms appear.

The number of total cases confirmed by China rose to 4,515 as of 27 January, up from 2,835 a day earlier.

According to the World Health Organization and national authorities, there have been at least 47 confirmed cases outside China.

The latest case to be confirmed is in the German state of Bavaria, only the fourth so far in Europe.

Eight cases: Thailand
Five: USA, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan
Four: Malaysia, South Korea, Japan
Three: France
Two: Vietnam
One: Nepal, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Cambodia

So far, there have been no deaths outside China.



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