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Coronavirus: China shuts down 13 cities; death toll climbs to 26

Coronavirus: China shuts down 13 cities; death toll climbs to 26
A patient is being carried by medical workers in protective suits in Wuhan, China. (AP)
BEIJING, JAN 24 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/24/2020 12:05:10 PM IST

Battling the fast spreading coronavirus, China on Friday said that it is building a 1,000-bed hospital for patients infected with the deadly virus that has claimed 26 lives so far with confirmed cases rising sharply to over 880, prompting authorities to shut down 13 cities during the country’s most important holiday.

Dampening the celebrations of the Lunar New Year, China, in an unprecedented move, has shut down transportation in at least 13 cities -- Wuhan and 12 of its neighbours -- in central China’s Hubei province to contain the coronavirus.

Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a global pandemic as virus has spread to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States as of Thursday. 

First South Asia case reported in Nepal: A Nepali student home from China has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials in Kathmandu said, making it the first case reported in South Asia.

“One patient tested positive for coronavirus. He is a Nepali student studying in China,” Mahendra Shrestha, a Health Ministry spokesperson, told Reuters.

Second case in US confirmed: Health officials in Illinois announced the second case of coronavirus in United States. According to CBS, the patient is a woman in her 60s, who had travelled to Wuhan in December. The woman returned from China on January 13 without initially showing any signs of illness, but a few days later, she called her doctor to report feeling sick. Doctors say the woman is hospitalised to prevent spread of the virus and is doing well, and those she had been in close contact with are being monitored.

WHO expects cases to rise in China: A WHO spokesman said the cases of new coronavirus are likely to continue to rise in China. “The focus is not so much on the [case] numbers, which we know will go up,” Tarik Jasarevic told a Geneva news briefing. “It’s still too early to draw conclusions on how severe the virus is,” adding that the WHO and its network of experts may look at treatments and vaccines against MERS for possible use against coronavirus.

According to the China’s National Health Commission, 26 people have died so far with 897 confirmed cases being treated mostly in Hubei province. 29 provinces have reported the cases.

Wuhan local government is rushing to build a 1,000-bedded hospital in the outskirts of Wuhan to treat coronavirus patients. Dozens of excavators were feverishly working at the site where the hospital will be built on 25000 sq metres just about 10 days’ time. It will be put into use by February 3.

Workers are being paid 1,200 yuan (USD 173) per day, three times their usual wage, to accelerate the construction.

Meanwhile, in India, eleven people, who are among hundreds of passengers who returned from China in the recent days, are under observation in hospitals to check for possible exposure to the deadly novel coronavirus, central and state officials said on Friday.

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