Coronavirus death toll climbs to 106 as China tightens measures

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The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally
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The death toll from the new coronavirus now stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day.

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

Japan is sending a plane to Wuhan to evacuate its citizens, as efforts to repatriate foreign nationals from the city at the epicentre of the outbreak gather pace.

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

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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.

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

Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province with the victims being elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems.

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

The outbreak of the virus comes during the Lunar New Year celebration which usually sees millions travel across the country to visit relatives and friends.

To try and 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.

In the last 24 hours:

  • Beijing and Shanghai have introduced a 14-day observation period for people arriving from Hubei
  • Authorities have postponed the new semester for schools and universities nationwide, without giving a resumption date
  • China Railway Group said would suspends hundreds of train lines throughout the country
  • The immigration administration has 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.

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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.

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.

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The United States, which has also had several infected cases, has urged its nationals to “reconsider travel” to China and is advising against travel to Hubei.

The country plans to fly consular staff and US citizens out of Wuhan in the coming days.

Japan is expecting to evacuate about 200 nationals on a chartered plane on Wednesday morning, with health workers on board to monitor passengers. The evacuees will be asked to look out for any symptoms of the new coronavirus for two weeks after their return.

Many other countries have also warned against any non-essential travel to China. Like the US and Japan, France has said it plans to airlift citizens out of Wuhan.

The UK is yet to make a similar decision but has urged Britons to leave the area if they can – however this has upset some living in Hubei who complain they are trapped.

The Philippines on Tuesday announced they would stop issuing visas on arrival for Chinese travellers.

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