China virus toll spikes to 80, more than 2,700 cases confirmed
Fully protected medical staff help a patient from an ambulance outside a hospital in Wuhan. At least 80 people are now confirmed to have died in the outbreak with more than 2,700 cases confirmed [Yuan Zheng/EPA]
China said on Monday that the death toll from a deadly outbreak of coronavirus jumped to 80 as the hard-hit province of Hubei announced 24 new fatalities, while total confirmed cases nationwide rose sharply to 2,744.
While there were no new deaths confirmed outside Hubei, the national tally of verified infections rose by 769, around half of them in Hubei, the National Health Commission said. It said 461 of those infected were in serious condition.
China has sealed off Hubei in the country’s centre, an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people and intended to slow transmission of the respiratory virus.
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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.
Drastic travel restrictions have been imposed outside the epicentre, with Shandong province and four cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Tianjin – announcing bans on long-distance buses entering or leaving.
The move will affect millions of people travelling over the Lunar New Year holiday, which authorities said would be extended while the government works to contain the virus.
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.
Originating in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, the virus has spread throughout China and across the world, with cases confirmed in around a dozen countries including as far away as Europe and the United States.