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Coronavirus Live Updates: Deaths Recorded Hundreds of Miles from Center of Outbreak – The New York Times, Nytimes.com

Coronavirus Live Updates: Deaths Recorded Hundreds of Miles from Center of Outbreak – The New York Times, Nytimes.com

Two deaths have been reported outside the city of Wuhan, the center of the mysterious outbreak. The new virus has sickened more than (people in China.

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Hospitals in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, are overwhelmed with patients seeking a diagnosis or treatment.

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Medical workers transfer a patient to a hospital in Wuhan, China, on Thursday. The mysterious disease has killed (people so far.
Credit … EPA, via Shutterstock
The death toll jumps as millions are caught in lockdown.

The authorities greatly expanded a travel lockdown in central China on Thursday, essentially penning in more than million million in an effort to contain a deadly virus that is overwhelming hospitals and fueling fears of a pandemic.

The new limits – abruptly decreed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season – were an extraordinary step that underscored the ruling Communist Party’s deepening fears about the outbreak of a little understood coronavirus .

Chinese health officials reported on Friday that there had been (deaths from and 2020 cases of the coronavirus, a sharp increase.

The official death toll increased by more than a half-dozen in hours, while the number of confirmed cases jumped by more than

On Thursday morning, the authorities imposed a travel lockdown in Wuhan, the (of) million at the epicenter of the outbreak. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights to Wuhan, leaving thousands of people stranded. Later in the day, officials said they would also halt public transportation in the nearby cities of Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang and Chibi, which are together home to more than nine million residents. And by Friday, restrictions had extended to Xiantao, Qianjiang and Enshi, three other cities that include large rural populations.

Two deaths have been confirmed outside the virus epicenter.

One patient died in the province of Hebei – more than miles north of Wuhan – after contracting the coronavirus, the provincial authorities announced on Thursday.

Another death was confirmed in Heilongjiang , a province near the border with Russia more than 1, miles from Wuhan.

The disease had also been diagnosed in patients in Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

In Wuhan, where the outbreak began, anxiety and anger prevailed as worried residen ts crowded into hospitals and teams of medical workers in hazmat suits sought to identify the infected.

As Wuhan residents waited in long lines at hospitals to be checked for possible coronavirus infections, some residents complained they were not able to get the treatment they needed.

Xiao Shibing, 90, has had a fever for days and difficulty breathing. When he went to a hospital, his family was told there were not enough kits to test for the newly discovered virus, said his daughter, Xiao Hongxia. He was told he had a viral chest infection and sent home.

Mr. Xiao’s family has continued to seek treatment, visiting other hospitals but being turned away by at least three because of a shortage of beds, said his wife, Feng Xiu. “It is like kicking a ball from here to there,” she said.

Cai Pei, , said his wife began coughing and developed a fever three days ago. He wrote on Weibo that hospitals would not admit her, and he had difficulty finding masks and cold medicine in local pharmacies.

They still do not know if she is infected with the new coronavirus or some more common ailment.

“Sometimes I can only hide and cry, but I couldn’t tell her and had to reassure her that it is not the virus,” Mr. Cai said by phone. “It is very scary. If it’s real, we have a kid and elderly parents at home. What if we all get sick? ”

Hospitals and medical workers at the center of the outbreak made urgent appeals for supplies, as stocks of surgical masks and other equipment quickly flew off shelves.

“Shortage of medical supplies, request help !!!” the Wuhan Children’s Hospital said Thursday in a post on (Weibo) , a Chinese social network.

The hospital asked for donations of surgical masks, disposable garments, protective goggles and gloves.

Several other hospitals, including the Hubei General Hospital, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Central Hospital of Wuhan posted similar notices.

The central government on Thursday acknowledged the severe strain on re sources, and the Ministry of Finance announced an urgent allocation of one billion renminbi, about $ million, for epidemic prevention and control work.

State news media also carried reports of people volunteering to help ease the strain on health workers.

Young doctors at the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University volunteered to take on additional shifts or to take over from colleagues with children, the state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A team of 41 volunteers in Wuhan mobilized to drive doctors to and from hospitals, while others have offered to help the local Red Cross answer phone calls and publicize requests for help from hospitals, according to a report by the China Business Journal.

Masks may help, but experts say it’s more important to wash your hands.

Many infectious disease specialists say that cheap, disposable masks that Cover the nose and mouth can help prevent the spread of infections if they are worn properly and used consistently.

But there isn’t much high-quality scientific evidence on their effectiveness outside health care settings, experts say.

Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, chairwoman of the public health committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said surgical masks are “the last line of defense.”

The masks will, however, block most large respiratory droplets from other people sneezes and coughs from entering your mouth and nose, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Coronaviruses are primarily spread through droplets, he said.

Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said a study during an outbreak of the SARS coronavirus found that any type of protection – whether a mask or a respirator – reduced the risk of infections in health care workers by about percent.

“The most important message was that the risk was lower if they consistently used any mask,” he said.

But washing hands – frequently and before eating – is universally recommended . Hand sanitizer is effective against respiratory viruses.

British and American governments tell citizens to avoid outbreak hot zone.

The American and British governments on Friday urged travelers to avoid the city of Wuhan and the surrounding area amid growing signs that the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus is worsening.

The American Embassy in Beijing advised travelers from the United States to avoid Hubei Province , where Wuhan is the capital. It said the State Department had already ordered nonemergency government personnel to leave the city. It further warned that the Chinese government might prevent travelers from arriving or leaving.

The notice from the State Department was a Level 4 advisory, the sternest warning the United States government issues regarding travel. Other Level 4 warnings issued by the State Department include travel to Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and Yemen , among other places.

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The warning is a step up from Washington’s earlier cautions. Just a day before, the American government had been advising travelers to “exercise extreme caution” when traveling to the Wuhan area.

The British government in a notice dated Thursday similarly advised against all but essential travel to Wuhan.

The warnings came as the Chinese government on Thursday began widening travel restrictions to cities surrounding Wuhan. The tougher restrictions apply to cities including Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhejiang, affecting millions more people. The Hubei government has imposed some of its own travel restrictions across the province.

Reporting was contributed by Chris Buckley, Javier Hernández, Vivian Wang, Austin Ramzy, Elaine Yu, Tiffany May, Russell Goldman, Gillian Wong, Paulina Villegas, Steven Lee Myers, Denise Grady, Karen Zraick, Roni Caryn Rabin, Carl Zimmer and Rick Gladstone. Amber Wang, Albee Zhang, Claire Fu, Elsie Chen, Yiwei Wang and Zoe Mou contributed research.

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