Economy

Novel coronavirus cases surpass 20,000 in China

Novel coronavirus cases surpass 20,000 in China”

The other two infections were in Singapore residents evacuated on Thursday from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have surfaced late past year in a market selling illegal wildlife.

The latest figures are up from 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases on Monday.

Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee on Monday the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus.

Singapore reported six more cases, including four local transmissions, taking its tally of infections to 24, the health ministry said.

The total number of infections in China rose by 3,235 to 20,438, and there were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

Dr. David Heymann, who led the World Health Organization's response to the SARS outbreak, said it's too early to tell when the virus outbreak will peak but that it appears the disease is still on the increase.

Such uncertainties are leading some countries to take extreme measures to stem the spread of the virus.

The victim in Hong Kong was a 39-year-old man with an underlying illness who had visited China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak now under virtual quarantine. He said the exponential spike in China's caseload in recent days was partly attributable to the fact that Chinese officials expanded their search to include milder cases, not only people with pneumonia.

A passenger on a Japanese-operated cruise ship tested positive after leaving the vessel while it was in Hong Kong, and Japanese officials were considering a quarantine of the more than 3,000 people on board.

A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built for patients infected with the new virus is due to open within days.

Chinese data suggest that the new virus, while much more contagious than SARS, is significantly less lethal, although such numbers can evolve rapidly. The health ministry said the person was in good health and didn't show any symptoms of the disease.

Raising the prospect of another dispute as trade frictions were easing, Beijing on Monday accused the United States of spreading panic after it announced plans to block almost all recent foreign visitors to China.

Canada was praised for not following the U.S.' example of enacting a travel ban in light of the coronavirus outbreak by a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

A day after accusing Washington of scaremongering, Beijing said it would welcome assistance from the United States to fight the outbreak.

On Monday, the British embassy in Beijing announced the last flights from China to the United Kingdom for British nationals would be leaving this week.

With Wuhan and some other cities in virtual lockdown, travel severely restricted and China facing increasing worldwide isolation, fears of wider economic disruption are growing; sources at the OPEC oil cartel said producers were considering cutting output by nearly a third to support prices.

With the world's second biggest economy facing increasing isolation and disruption, some economists predict world output will shrink by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points.



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