Death Toll Spikes as Coronavirus Spreads to Every Region of China
Number killed by deadly virus surpasses 170 with close to 8000 confirmed Chinese cases
The death toll for the deadly coronavirus has spiked as the latest confirmed cases mean the virus outbreak has now spread to every region in China.
The number of people killed by the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 170 as of Thursday morning.
Chinese health authorities have confirmed a new case in Tibet, meaning it has reached every region in mainland China.
As of January 29, there were 7,711 confirmed cases in the country with infections having also spread to at least 15 other countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling a crisis meeting on Thursday to again examine whether the coronavirus constitutes a global health emergency.
In a statement Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "In the last few days the progress of the virus, especially in some countries, especially human-to-human transmission, worries us."
Ghebreyesus named Germany, Vietnam, and Japan, where there have been cases of people catching the virus from others who have been to China.
"Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak," the WHO chief said.
More people have now been infected in China than during the Sars outbreak in the early 2000s, but the death toll remains far lower.
Sars, also a coronavirus, caused acute respiratory illness.
Voluntary evacuations of hundreds of foreign nationals from Wuhan are underway to help people who want to leave the closed-off city and return to their countries.
The UK, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, and New Zealand are expected to quarantine all evacuees for two weeks to monitor them for symptoms and avoid any contagion.
Australia plans to quarantine its evacuees on Christmas Island, 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland in a detention center that has been used to house asylum seekers.
Singapore is setting up a quarantine facility on Pulau Ubin, an island north-east of the city-state's mainland.
In other developments:
- Flights to take British and South Korean citizens out of Wuhan have both been delayed after relevant permissions from the Chinese authorities did not come through
- Two flights to Japan have already landed at Tokyo's Haneda airport and the passengers are being screened. Three have so far tested positive for the virus, Japanese media report
- Around 200 US citizens have been flown out of Wuhan and will be isolated at a military base in California for at least 72 hours
- Two aircraft are due to fly EU citizens home with 250 French nationals leaving on the first flight.
Although questions have been raised about transparency, the WHO has praised China's handling of the outbreak.
President Xi Jinping has vowed to defeat what he called a "devil" virus.
The central province of Hubei, where nearly all deaths have occurred, is in a state of lockdown.
The province of 60 million people is home to Wuhan, the heart of the outbreak.
The city has effectively been sealed off and China has put numerous transport restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus.
People who have been in Hubei are also being told by their employers to work from home until it is considered safe for them to return.
The virus is affecting China's economy, the world's second-largest, with a growing number of countries advising their citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.
Several international airlines have stopped or scaled back their routes to China and companies like Google, Ikea, Starbucks, and Tesla have closed their shops or stopped operations.
There have been reports of food shortages in some places.
State media says authorities are "stepping up efforts to ensure continuous supply and stable prices."
The Chinese Football Association has announced the postponement of all games in the 2020 season.