China battles coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

  • January 29, 2020

People around Asia have rushed to buy face masks as the virus has spread. In Hong Kong, people are being given free masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus [Jerome Favre/EPA]

Japan, US begin evacuating citizens from hardest-hit city of Wuhan as number infected surpasses 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

The death toll in China from a deadly new coronavirus rose to 132 with new cases reaching nearly 6,000 – more than during the SARS epidemic of 2002 and 2003 – as Japan and the United States began evacuating hundreds of citizens from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

Authorities said on Wednesday the number of confirmed cases across the country climbed to 5,974, while the death toll nationwide jumped by 26.

All of those new deaths were in Hubei except for one, which was on a province just to the north. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei.

More than 56 million people in almost 20 Chinese cities, including Wuhan, have been prevented from travelling in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus during the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, traditionally China’s busiest travel season.

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met China’s President Xi Jingping on Tuesday.

The agency has acknowledged the respiratory illness is an emergency in China but said last week it was too early to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. It has described the global risk from the virus as high.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, January 29

China expert says outbreak could peak in 10 days

The coronavirus outbreak could peak in 7 – 10 days, according to respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan, who heads China’s team of experts for the control and prevention of the virus.

Speaking to state news agency Xinhua, Zhong said while it was difficult to estimate the peak, there should be no “large-scale increases” after a week or 10 days.

“There are two keys to tackling the epidemic; early detection and early isolation,” Zhong said. “They are the most primitive and most effective methods.” (Aljazeera)