China battles coronavirus outbreak

The death toll in China from a deadly new coronavirus rose to 132 with the number of cases reaching nearly 6,000 – more than during the SARS epidemic of 2002-03 – as Japan and the United States began evacuating hundreds of citizens from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

Authorities said on Wednesday the number of confirmed cases across the country climbed to 5,974, while the death toll nationwide rose by 26.

All of those new deaths were in Hubei except for one, which was in a province just to the north. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei.

More than 56 million people in almost 20 Chinese cities, including Wuhan, have been prevented from travelling in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus during the Lunar New Year or spring festival, traditionally China’s busiest travel season.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met China’s President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

The agency has acknowledged the respiratory illness is an emergency in China but said last week it was too early to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. It has described the global risk from the virus as high.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, January 29
China calls for more vegetable output amid virus outbreak
China’s agriculture ministry uhas urged a boost in vegetable production to guarantee ample supplies and stable prices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The ministry encouraged farms to increase production of fast-growing vegetables, and also asked local authorities to reduce transportation costs in order to ensure market supply, according to a statement posted on its website.

Lion Air to suspend China flights over virus
Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all its flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said.

“All flights to China will be suspended temporarily starting from February 1st until further notice,” Danang Mandala Prihantoro told AFP news agency.

Dozens of flights would be affected on routes to 15 Chinese cities, he added.

Indonesia attracts more than one million Chinese tourists annually and hosts tens of thousands of guest workers.

Read more about moves taken by airlines here.


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