Coronavirus Outbreak: China Expands Lockdown to 56 Million People
By Staff, Agencies
China has expanded its lockdown on more cities, restricting movement to an unprecedented 56 million people as it rushes to build a prefabricated, 1,000-bed hospital for victims, while the death toll from the outbreak continues to rise, casting a pall over Lunar New Year, the country's biggest and most festive holiday.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across China climbed sharply to more than 1,287, with at least 41 deaths reported as of Saturday morning.
At least five cases are also reported in Hong Kong, two in Macau, and three cases in Taiwan.
Worldwide, there are a total of 1,321 confirmed coronavirus infections.
As the death toll continues to rise, the National Health Commission announced on Saturday nationwide measures to identify suspected cases of the deadly virus on trains, aero-planes and buses.
Inspection stations will be set up and passengers with suspected pneumonia must be "immediately transported" to a medical center, the statement said.
In the southern city of Haikou, the city government also announced that that it will start a 14-day centralized medical observation for all tourists coming from Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus.
Tourists from Hubei, especially from Wuhan city, are not allowed to leave the hotel where the medical observation will be held during the 14-day period, the announcement said.
At least 450 military additional medical staff were deployed to Hubei to help with the treatment.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities on Saturday confirmed its first case of the deadly infection.
In Malaysia, the health ministry announced on Saturday that three people have been infected with the virus.
Xinhua news agency also reported one case in Nepal, involving a student who is a student in Wuhan. He reportedly arrived in Nepal on January 5 and visited the hospital on January 13.
Elsewhere, France announced late on Friday its third case of the virus - the first cases in Europe. And the United States reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalized after returning from China.