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Coronavirus: Death toll increases up to 400 in China

The death toll due to the coronavirus in China increased up to 400 as 64 more people died, the biggest single day death toll since the first fatalities emerged last month.

Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday became the second place outside mainland China which reported the death of a coronavirus patient as restrictions on travelling were imposed in many different cities far from the epicenter, including the home of tech giant Alibaba.

The authorities in eastern Zhejiang province limited the number of people allowed to travel outside in three cities as a sign of their growing concerns about infections which is increasing further in major metropolitan areas.

Three districts in Hangzhou along with the area where the main office of Chinese tech giant Alibaba is based, decided to allow only one person per household to go outside every two days in order to buy their basic necessities. As a result, some three million people were affected.

The city is only 175 kilometers (110 miles) southwest of Shanghai, which has more than 200 cases of Coronavirus among which one died so far.

These measures were also imposed in three districts in Ningbo, and Taizhou, which is home to nine million people; days after the same measures were taken in Wenzhou with total populations of another nine million people.

829 cases have been confirmed by the Zhejiang province making it to the highest number outside the central region of Hubei, whose capital, Wuhan, is the epicentre of the outbreak.

The coronavirus disease is believed to have spread in a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals, expanding rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.

China has struggled to contain the coronavirus despite enacting unprecedented measures, which included the locking down of more than 50 million people in Hubei.

The death of the 39-year-old man in Hong Kong came as the semi-autonomous city closed all but two land crossings with the Chinese mainland to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The media of Hong Kong said that the man was suffering from underlying health issues that complicated his treatment. Wuhan was visited by him last month.

Hong Kong has been particularly on edge over the coronavirus as memories have been revived of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03, which killed nearly 300 people in the financial hub and 349 people in the mainland.

The mortality rate for the new coronavirus is much lower than the 9.6 per cent rate for SARS including more than 20,400 confirmed infections in China.

The coronavirus has so far spread to more than 20 countries, prompting the World Health Organization in order to declare a global health emergency, several governments to institute travel restrictions, and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.

On Sunday the Philippines reported the death of a Chinese man who had come from Wuhan — the first outside China.

‘Shortcomings and difficulties’

The Communist leadership of China made a rare admission of fallibility on Monday as it acknowledged “shortcomings and difficulties exposed in the response to the epidemic”.

The elite Politburo Standing Committee called for improvements to the “national emergency management system” at the meeting, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

“It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade,” the elite Politburo Standing Committee said.

The government also added it “urgently” needed medical equipment such as surgical masks, protective suits and safety goggles as it battles to control the outbreak.

Most of the deaths tolls have been in Wuhan and the rest of surrounding Hubei province, which has largely been under lockdown for almost two weeks.

A 1,000-bed field hospital in Wuhan built from scratch within two weeks to relieve overburdened medical facilities started receiving patients on Tuesday.

A second makeshift hospital would be opened later this week.

Economic woes

Global fears about the coronavirus have increased, with cruise lines worldwide expected to deny boarding to passengers and crew who have recently travelled to China.

Japan has quarantined a cruise ship carrying 3,711 people and was looking for symptoms those on board for the new coronavirus Tuesday, after a former passenger was diagnosed with the illness in Hong Kong.

Macau, semi-autonomous of China gambling hub, decided to temporarily close all of its casinos for at least two weeks.

The coronavirus is also taking an increasing economic toll, which resulted in shutting down businesses across China, curbing international travel and impacting production lines of major global brands.

The government extended the Lunar New Year holiday by three days in an effort to keep people indoors.

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