China’s health officials have confirmed the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province has reached 549, with 19,665 cases of infection.
- Wuhan has been the location of nearly 60 per cent of all new cases in the Hubei province
- The virus has disrupted air travel, with more than two dozen airlines suspending flights to China
- The virus was first identified in Wuhan and is believed to have originated at a seafood market in the city
The province, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 70 new deaths and 2,987 new confirmed cases, the local health commission said.
Hubei has been in near-total lockdown for almost two weeks, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed off.
The coronavirus was first identified in Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan and is believed to have originated at a seafood market in the city.
The daily death toll on Wednesday (local time) was higher than the 65 reported on the previous day, though the number of new cases fell slightly.
The province’s healthcare infrastructure has come under heavy pressure as a result of the epidemic.
The commission said as many as 14,314 people were still undergoing treatment, with 2,328 still in a serious condition.
Medical equipment shortage
Wuhan has continued to bear the brunt of the virus, and has been the location of nearly 60 per cent of all the province’s new cases.
The death rate so far has also been significantly higher in Wuhan than in the rest of the country, suggesting that the total number of cases might have been under-reported, with the city trying to diagnose thousands of patients despite a shortage of medical equipment and hospital beds.
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The virus has disrupted air travel, with more than two dozen airlines suspending or restricting flights to China and several countries, including Australia and the United States, banning the entry of any non-permanent residents who have been in China recently.
Hong Kong said all visitors from mainland China would be quarantined for two weeks, while Taiwan banned the entry of mainland residents from Thursday.
However, the World Health Organisation has advised against trade and travel restrictions.
Global airlines, including in Australia, have suspended or scaled back direct flights to China’s major cities.
Last week, Qantas announced it would suspend flights to mainland China from February 9 until March 29.
A further 10 people on board a cruise ship that has been quarantined at Yokohama in Japan have tested positive to coronavirus.
Almost 4,000 passengers are in lockdown on the Diamond Princess, which is being reloaded with food, medicine and masks.
Ten people — including two Australians — on board the ship tested positive for the virus and were taken off yesterday.
A further 10 passengers tested positive today, including four people from Japan, one from Taiwan, two Americans, two Canadians and one from New Zealand.
Jeremy Fernandez will host a 30-minute special on coronavirus on Friday, February 7 from 7.30pm AEDT on the ABC News Channel, featuring a guest panel, explainers on how the virus unfolded and myth-busting the misinformation. The special will be repeated on ABC TV at 10:00pm.
More on the coronavirus outbreak:
- Coronavirus update: Information about the outbreak and how you can protect yourself
- What the updated coronavirus travel alert level and additional border measures will mean for you
- The WHO has declared a global emergency for just the sixth time. Here’s what that means
- Australian lab recreates coronavirus, helping vaccine push
- What exactly is coronavirus and should you be concerned?