Coronavirus death toll hits 361, around 17,000 people infected

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MT. Desk: China’s death toll from the coronavirus epidemic soared past 360 on Monday, with deepening global concern about the outbreak and governments closing their borders to people from China. The number of total infections passed 17,200 nationwide with 2,829 new cases confirmed, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

In its daily update, the commission said there had been 57 new deaths from the virus — all in hardest-hit Hubei province except one, bringing the national toll to 361.

The Group of Seven has confirmed cases of the virus in their respective countries.Meanwhile in Thailand, which has 19 confirmed cases, doctors said on Sunday an elderly Chinese patient treated with a cocktail of flu and HIV drugs had shown dramatic improvement and tested negative for the virus 48 hours later.

The fresh toll came a day after China imposed a lockdown on a major city far from the epicentre and the first fatality outside the country was reported in the Philippines.Authorities in Hubei, the province at the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 56 new fatalities, with one reported in the southwestern megalopolis of Chongqing. That took the toll in China to 361, exceeding the 349 mainland fatalities from the 2002-3 SARS outbreak.

Struggling to contain the virus, authorities took action in the eastern city of Wenzhou on Sunday, closing roads and confining people to their homes. Wenzhou is some 800 kilometres from Wuhan, the metropolis at the heart of the health emergency.

Since emerging out of Wuhan late last year, the new coronavirus has infected more than 17,200 people across China and reached 24 nations. The G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — have all confirmed cases of the virus.

They will discuss a joint response, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.Most of the infections overseas have been detected in people who travelled from Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, or surrounding areas of Hubei province.

The man who died in the Philippines was a 44-year-old from Wuhan, according to the World Health Organisation, which has declared the epidemic a global health emergency.

China has embarked on unprecedented efforts to contain the virus, which is believed to have jumped to humans from a Wuhan animal market, and can be transmitted among people.China’s efforts have included extraordinary quarantines in Wuhan and surrounding cities, with all transport out banned, effectively sealing off more than 50 million people.

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