Coronavirus infection count rises as countries race to contain its spread

Henrietta Brewer
January 26, 2020

China has locked down the worst-hit province of Hubei in the country's centre in a massive quarantine affecting tens of millions of people to slow the spread of a respiratory illness that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000.

NSW Health said while there are no confirmed cases in the state, four are now under investigation.

China has sealed off Wuhan and other cities in hard-hit Hubei province, affecting tens of millions of people, and is now expanding restrictions to other parts of the country.

The outbreak intensified as millions of Chinese were traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday, dampening celebrations around the country on Saturday.

Those who have made voluntary reports should collaborate with customs officers in following health quarantine which involves temperature screening, medical checks and medical investigation, said the statement.

The epicentre of the outbreak seems to be a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan.

Almost all flights have been cancelled and checkpoints are blocking the main roads leading out of town.

As the city slides into isolation, pharmacies have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been flooded with nervous residents. The city has said another hospital was expected to be completed February 3.

The facility will be a prefabricated structure on a 25,000 sq m lot, slated for completion February 3.

Cases have also been identified in Japan, South Korea, the United States, France, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

On Saturday, the Hubei provincial health authority said there were 77 new cases in Wuhan, four new cases in Shiyan city, 13 new cases in Jingmen city and 13 new cases in Xiaogan city.

The virus causes flu-like symptoms and more than 1,200 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with the vast majority occurring in China.

"He's been put in an insulated room so as to avoid any contact with the outside world. He's fine", Ms Buzyn said.

On Friday, the Health Ministry issued a warning for Israelis not to travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan and its surroundings, as Beijing struggles to deal with the outbreak. Most of those who have died were elderly, but a 36-year-old man succumbed to the virus last week, and a healthcare worker was also reported among the fatalities.

Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance.

Whether the outbreak will continue to spread at this rate depends on the effectiveness of control measures, the scientists who conducted the studies said.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, China's President Xi Jinping stressed the urgency of controlling the outbreak - which includes hundreds more confirmed cases since Friday - and urged state authorities to prioritize containment efforts.

Local officials ordered Wuhan hospitals to staff 24-hour clinics to examine people with fevers and pneumonia symptoms.

Concerns have spread over the possibility of the Wuhan coronavirus turning into an epidemic similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which claimed the lives of almost 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak.

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