'Covid-19' death toll jumps to over 1500, confirmed cases above 66,000

Laverne Higgins
February 15, 2020

The official Beijing Daily newspaper said people failing to obey would be punished but it was not immediately clear how that would be enforced, or whether the restrictions would apply to non-residents of Beijing or foreigners arriving from overseas. Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of transport, said travel volumes were only about one-fifth to one-sixth the normal level.

The scale of the epidemic increased significantly this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for qualifying cases, adding thousands of new patients to their province's figures.

It has spread to more than 20 other countries including the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.

A number of cities far from the epicentre have also imposed tough measures limiting the number of people who can leave their homes.

"Those who refuse to accept home or centralised observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under law".

Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services with the country.

Outside China, there have been 505 cases in 24 countries, and two deaths.

The number of deaths in Hubei rose by 139 as of Friday, 107 of those in Wuhan.

Those who don't comply could face legal action, the notice said.

In Singapore, which has 67 confirmed cases, the Roman Catholic Church said it was suspending all masses indefinitely to help prevent the spread of the virus and urged the faithful to follow services on YouTube or the radio.

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The mission will also look into what "information is needed so that the world can use this window of opportunity to prepare health systems and workers for possible outbreaks", Tedros said.

Egypt's health ministry on Friday confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in Africa.

Employees must wear masks all day and report their temperature twice a day as fever is one of the virus' main symptoms.

Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, now includes cases based on a physician's diagnosis before they have been confirmed by lab tests.

A WHO-led joint mission with China will start its outbreak investigation work this weekend, focusing on how the new coronavirus is spreading and its severity, World Health Organization director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Thailand reported its 34th case, a medical worker, a day after China said, 1,716 of its health workers had been infected and six had died.

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The WHO has cautioned that it was "way too early" to make any predictions about the disease's trajectory.

More medical workers and supplies from many parts of the country are arriving in Wuhan to support the local people in the fight against novel coronavirus.

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