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Coronavirus: More border restrictions hit China as death toll increases

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China

The number of deaths from a coronavirus epidemic in China has risen by 46 to 259, the country’s health authority said on Saturday, as the United States and other nations announced new border curbs on foreigners who have been in China.

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The central province of Hubei, the center of the epidemic, is under a virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere in China, authorities have placed restrictions on travel and business activity.

In its latest figures, China’s National Health Commission said there were 2,102 new confirmed infections in China on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 11,791. Around two dozen other countries have reported another 137 cases.

The Chinese data would suggest it is less deadly than the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people of the some 8,000 it infected, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

In Beijing, counters were set up at the entrances of housing estates, where volunteers wearing red armbands and masks noted down details of residents coming back from their hometowns after the Lunar New Year holiday.

“As long as I am properly protected and don’t go to crowded places, I don’t feel scared at all about my hometown or Beijing,” said a 58-year-old migrant worker surnamed Sun.

Others were more worried. “There will be a huge number of people returning to the city, I think it will put Beijing at risk of more infections,” said Zhang Chunlei, 45, another returning migrant worker.

The World Health Organization, which this week declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, has said global trade and travel restrictions were not needed.

But Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to ban foreign nationals who have recently been in China from entering their territories.


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