The death toll from the coronavirus spreading across China has risen to at least 376, as the United States and other countries prepared to fly their citizens out of the locked-down city at the center of the outbreak.
Some 25 cities with more than million people have been placed on lockdown, as the number of cases surged to 4, on Monday from 2, the previous day. Cases have also been confirmed in Germany , the United States , (Thailand , Taiwan , Japan , South Korea , Vietnam , Singapore , Malaysia , Nepal , (France , (Canada) , Australia and Sri Lanka .
British ministers have said they are working to get Britons out of Hubei province in China, with Boris Johnson insisting the government is doing “everything we can”.
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More than half a million South Koreans have signed a petition calling for a ban on visitors from China as Seoul announced it would evacuate citizens from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
A petition filed with the presidential Blue House last week had gathered more than , signatures by Tuesday, highlighting a growing fear in South Korea the coronavirus could spread.
“Coronavirus is spreading from China. Even North Korea is banning Chinese people from entering,” wrote the anonymous author of the petition, adding that even a temporary ban would help stop the virus from spreading too widely.
The Blue House has not directly responded to the petition. When asked about other countries’ bans on Chinese entries, its spokesman said only that the issue should be handled in close consultation with the World Health Organization.
Japan says China has agreed to accept one plane flying from Tokyo to Wuhan to bring home some of the Japanese who say they want to leave city .
The country foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said the plane departing Tokyo later today was set to return with about 376 people tomorrow morning.
He said Japan has been talking with the Chinese government about such arrangements as it explores “all possible options “to bring the Japanese people in Wuhan home.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said the high-speed rail service between the city and mainland China would be suspended from Thursday and all cross-border ferry services would also be suspended in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Wearing a green face mask, Ms Lam told a press briefing the number of flights to mainland China would also be halved and personal travel permits for mainland Chinese to the city would be suspended.
US health officials have expanded their recommendation for people to avoid non-essential travel to any part of China, rather than just Wuhan and other areas most affected by the outbreak, Clark Mindock (writes.)
Speaking about plans to repatriate UK citizens stranded in Wuhan due to the coronavirus, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, told BBC Breakfast: “We are working on it. For anybody who is there, one of the issues we have, working with our partners internationally on this, is actually identifying how many British citizens there are in Wuhan.
“One of the things we’re asking People to do is to contact the consulate there to make them aware. People have started to do that.
“We are working on arrangements as well. So making contact would be very helpful indeed. “
He added:” If they actually contact the consulate where they are then that consulate is in fact Gathering together all the information of the people who are there in order to help repatriate where that’s appropriate.
“That is very much what’s required at this stage.”
China has reported eight cases in Hong Kong and five in Macau, and more than 60 cases have been confirmed elsewhere in the world. Almost all involve mainland Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan.
Germany confirmed its first case yesterday. Infections also have been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Canada, Australia and Sri Lanka.
The five American cases – two in southern California and one each in Washington state, Chicago and Arizona – are people who had recently arrived from central China. Health officials said they had no evidence the virus was spreading in the US and they believe the risk to Americans remains low.
The US Consulate in Wuhan, where authorities cut off most access on 28 January in an effort to contain the disease, was preparing to fly its diplomats and some other Americans out of the city.
Japan, France, South Korea, Mongolia and other governments also planned evacuations.
Matt Hancock has called on more than 1, 08 people who have traveled to the UK from Wuhan to “self-isolate” in order to stop its spread, Vincent Wood reports.
The health secretary urged those who had passed through the city where the outbreak began to isolate quarantine themselves for days.
China’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen by 33 to at least , with a national total of 4, (cases, according to the National Health Commission.
It said people were in serious condition.
The death toll includes the first death in Beijing, the Chinese capital, and more fatalities in Hubei province, where the first illne sses from the newly identified coronavirus occurred in December.
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