Coronavirus Outbreak

Death toll rises to 81, confirmed case 2,700

China said on Monday that the death toll from the deadly outbreak of coronavirus jumped to 81 as the hard-hit province of Hubei announced 24 new fatalities and expanded measures to keep people at home during what is usually the country's biggest holiday season, reports Al Jazeera.
Total confirmed cases nationwide rose sharply to 2,744, officials said as state media reported the first death in Hainan province: an 80-year-old woman.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has visited Wuhan where he was expected to meet patients as well as frontline medical teams.
China's finance ministry and National Health Commission have extended the 60.33 billion yuan ($8.74bn) to help contain the spreading virus, according to a statement on the ministry's website.
The national tally of verified infections rose by 769, about half of them in Hubei, the National Health Commission said. It said 461 of those infected were in a serious condition.
China has sealed off Hubei in the country's centre, an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people which is intended to slow the transmission of the respiratory virus.
The end of the Lunar New Year holiday, China's busiest travel season, was pushed back to Sunday from Friday to ‘effectively reduce mass gatherings’ and ‘block the spread of the epidemic’, a cabinet statement said. Schools will also postpone reopening until further notice, it added.
Cases have been confirmed in the semi-autonomous territories of Macau and Hong Kong, where the government is turning holiday camps into quarantine centres.
Scattered cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the United States, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Canada and Australia. The US has confirmed cases in Washington state, Chicago, southern California and Arizona.
The previously unknown contagion has caused global concern because of its similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pathogen, which originated in China in 2002 and went on to kill hundreds of people not only in mainland China but also in Hong Kong and further afield.
Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown, who reported on the SARS virus, said that while it did appear that China was now being more open in some ways not much had changed.
"We know the virus in Wuhan began to appear at the end of November but it was not until the end of December that officials notified the WHO, and it was only after Xi Jinping said he wanted full transparency that all this data began to be released," Brown said from Hong Kong.
Censorship had fed deep scepticism about the information being released, he added.
Drastic travel restrictions have been imposed beyond the epicentre, with Shandong province and four cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Tianjin - announcing bans on long-distance buses entering or leaving.
The densely populated southern province of Guangdong, Jiangxi in central China and three cities made it mandatory for residents to wear face masks in public.
The virus is thought to have originated in a seafood market that also sold wild animals in Hubei's capital of Wuhan towards the end of last year.
The government said in a statement on Monday that Premier Li Keqiang had visited the city to inspect the ongoing efforts to contain the epidemic and spoke with patients and medical staff.
Spain to repatriate its citizens from Wuhan
The Spanish government is working with China and the European Union to repatriate Spanish nationals from Wuhan, Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said.
"We're working ... with our consulate in Beijing, and officials in China and the European Union to repatriate around 20 Spaniards in Wuhan, Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus. We will continue to update on any advances," she wrote on Twitter.
Russia tour operators stop selling China tours
Russian tour operators have stopped selling tours to China due to the coronavirus outbreak and are only bringing Russian tourists back, Dmitry Gorin, vice president of the Association of Russian Tour Operators told Reuters news agency.
"The tours are not being sold because there is a safety threat," he said, adding that the move followed recommendations from Russia's tourism watchdog.
Malaysia imposes temporary ban on visitors from Hubei
Malaysia has imposed a temporary ban on Chinese visitors from Wuhan and the wider Hubei province in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The government decided to impose the measure with immediate effect following the rising death toll in China, according to a statement from the Malaysian prime minister's office, which added that the ban would be lifted once the situation returned to normal.
Malaysia has reported four confirmed cases of the deadly virus.
South Korea confirms fourth case
South Korea has confirmed its fourth case of the virus in a 55-year-old South Korean man who returned from Wuhan on January 20 and tested positive for the virus.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control (KCDC) said the man was placed in quarantine on Sunday and that health authorities are in the process of tracking his movements since returning and the people he may have contacted.
Mongolia closes China border, shuts schools
Mongolia has closed its border crossing with China to cars and pedestrians and shut schools in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly virus.
"Pedestrians and cars are prohibited to cross the Chinese border," said Vice Prime Minister Enkhtuvishin Ulziisaikhan said on Sunday, adding that schools and universities would stay closed until March 2, along with other public places.
"Public events are also prohibited. Public events mean conferences, any public gathering such as sports, entertainment or travel and competitions," he said.
Hainan province announces first death
China's southern province of Hainan has confirmed that an 80-year-old woman died after being infected with the coronavirus, its first fatality in the outbreak, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Australia confirms fifth coronavirus case
Australia has confirmed its fifth case of coronavirus, with health officials saying the patient was a 21-year-old woman who was on the last flight out of Wuhan to Sydney before the travel ban was imposed.
The woman travelled on a direct flight to Sydney from Wuhan and developed symptoms within 24 hours and went to an emergency department, New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.
"The patient was immediately put into isolation," Chant said.
Officials were tracing "a couple of very low-level contacts" related to the woman, Chant said.
WHO chief travelling to Beijing
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is travelling to Beijing to meet government officials and those dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
He said he wants to "understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak."
Japan to arrange charter flight to evacuate citizens from Wuhan
Japan is expected to arrange a charter flight as early as Tuesday for any of its citizens who wish to return from Wuhan, Kyodo news agency reported, citing a senior ruling party official.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference earlier on Monday the government was working with Chinese authorities to make arrangements for all Japanese nationals wishing to return from Wuhan, including on charter flights.