Health Care

China's coronavirus cases, deaths rise as it struggles to slow spread

China's coronavirus cases, deaths rise as it struggles to slow spread”

BEIJING, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Chinese capital Beijing on Friday imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on people returning to the city from holidays to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, and threatened to punish those who failed to comply.

It was not immediately clear how the restriction, relayed by the official Beijing Daily newspaper, would be enforced, or whether it would apply to non-residents of Beijing or foreigners arriving from overseas.

China is struggling to get the world's second-largest economy going after the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended by 10 days to help contain the virus.

Chinese authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei and its capital Wuhan under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.

- China reports 2,641 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 143 deaths on Friday from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

While the vast majority of infections and deaths have been in China, there have been almost 450 cases in some 24 countries and territories outside mainland China, and three deaths.

The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to China's National Health Commission.

In another drastic preventive measure, China's central bank said Saturday that used banknotes were being disinfected with ultraviolet light or high temperatures, and stored for up to 14 days before they are put back into circulation.

A top Chinese official, in an interview with Reuters, acknowledged that the coronavirus was a huge challenge, but defended the government's management of it and lashed out at the "over-reaction" of some countries.

State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China's foreign minister, said China has taken decisive measures to fight the epidemic, many going beyond global health regulations and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

Of the medical workers, 20,374 are now working in Wuhan, he added.

The virus is killing around 2% of those it infects, but is able to spread faster than other respiratory viruses that have emerged this century.

The mission will also seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 healthworkers infected contracted the new virus, World Health Organization officials said.

China reported 2,641 new virus cases Saturday as it escalates measures to contain the outbreak and reassure an anxious public.

In France, an 80-year-old Chinese tourist died from the new coronavirus, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.

China's government said the spike in cases was due to a change in how cases are tabulated.

The virus is taking its toll on the $46 billion global ocean cruise industry.

The ship, owned by Carnival Corp, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama, Japan, on February 3, with 3,500 passengers and crew on board, of whom 218 have tested positive for the infection. Japan's Health Ministry allowed 11 passengers to disembark Friday, saying that those above 80 years of age, with underlying medical conditions as well as those staying in windowless cabins during the 14-day quarantine can stay at a designated facility on shore.

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