Death Toll From Coronavirus Hits 170
The death toll of the coronavirus has risen to 170 and with a confirmed case in Tibet, the virus has now spread to every region in mainland China.
Chinese health authorities have said there were 7,711 confirmed cases in the country as of 29 January, with majority of the cases recorded in the city of Wuhan, which the epicentre of the outbreak.
This is just as the virus has also spread to at least 16 other countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will meet on Thursday to discuss whether the virus constitutes a global health emergency.
“In the last few days the progress of the virus, especially in some countries, especially human-to-human transmission, worries us,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, pointing to Germany, Vietnam and Japan.
“Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.”
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.
Two flights to Japan have already landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport and the passengers are being screened at medical institutions. So far, three have tested positive for the virus, Japanese media report.
Around 200 US citizens have also been flown out of Wuhan and are being screened in the US.
A group of Singaporean citizens has also already been flown out while people from Wuhan stranded in Singapore due to flight cancellations have been flown back to China.
Flights to take British and South Korean citizens out of Wuhan have both been delayed after relevant permissions from Chinese authorities did not come through.
According to the UK government, the arriving passengers are to be put in “supported isolation” for 14 days with “all necessary medical attention”.
Australia plans to quarantine its evacuees on Christmas island, 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland.
Two aircraft are due to fly EU citizens home with 250 French nationals leaving on the first flight.
Canada, the Philippines and Malaysia have also announced plans to fly their citizens out of Wuhan.
A growing number of countries are advising their citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to China.
The virus is thought to have originated in animals, but no cause has been officially identified. Officials announced a sale of all wildlife in China.
The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine.
There have been no reported deaths outside China.