Coronavirus: First death outside China reported in Philippines

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying file

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying file

Apple is temporarily closing its 42 stores in mainland China, one of its largest markets, as the new virus spreads rapidly.

A man in the Philippines has become the first person outside China to die from the coronavirus outbreak, while the overall death toll has risen above 300 and the number of confirmed cases of infection increased to more than 14,000. On Thursday, Kerala reported India's first case of coronavirus - a medical student studying in China's Wuhan city, the epicenter of the outbreak. China has moved to lock down at least three big cities in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world.

USA officials declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency Friday.

China found itself increasingly isolated over the weekend, with the United States and Australia leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans.

Paris: A SARS-like coronavirus has spread around China and three other Asian countries since first emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December previous year.

Internationally, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Israel have banned foreign nationals from visiting if they have been in China recently, and they have also warned their own citizens against travelling there.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Sunday confirmed the death of a Philippines patient.

The death toll in China climbed by 45 to 304 and the number of cases by 2,590 to 14,380, according to the National Health Commission.

China also confirmed 315 more severe infections, putting that total at 2,110.

The number of confirmed infections in China is far higher than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak of 2002-03.

A further German national was also infected with the virus in Spain, reported the Spanish ministry for health on Saturday. They include an evacuee, a Chinese relative of a man who tested positive and a man who returned from Wuhan.

Britain, which has had two confirmed cases, said it was withdrawing some staff from its embassy and consulates in China.

Russian Federation announced the closure of its land border with China earlier in the week, following similar steps to some of China's other neighbours. Many businesses have closed due to authorities encouraging people to avoid public gatherings.

Pakistani Health Minister Zafar Mirza said earlier that Islamabad will not be "just copying a few other countries" that have made a decision to pull their citizens out of China. Hence, once again, I must say that the Pakistan government should realise its responsibility.

Another locked-down city in Hubei, Huanggang, on Saturday banned nearly all of its residents from leaving their homes in the most stringent controls imposed yet.

One British man in the city said he had been offered a space on a French evacuation flight, but told of his fears of being left stranded in the city after deciding he could not leave his nurse wife behind when she could not get the time off work.

Custom authorities had ordered temperature checks at all exit-entry points in Beijing, according to state media.

All passengers are also required to fill in health declaration cards.

Auto drivers in eastern Shandong Province are required to undergo temperature checks before entering highways, said Xinhua. Many other stores and cafes in the capital and other cities chose to close.

"Instead of dwelling on the negative, we all should join hands in allaying the apprehensions of the citizenry and contribute to the containment of the disease by observing and following the health protocols put up by the Department of Health and other agencies of the government".

China Evergrande Group, the nation's third-largest property developer, said in an internal note it would extend its Lunar New Year holiday to February 16, and suspend construction work at all of its 1,246 sites until February 20.

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