The death toll from a new coronavirus outbreak has jumped to more than 300, the Chinese government has said, as other nations imposed extraordinary travel restrictions on China, and airlines suspended flights.
The Philippines meanwhile reported on Sunday the first death outside China – a 44-year-old man from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
At least 304 people in China were confirmed dead in the 24 hours to the end of February 1, according to the National Health Commission. Thousands more were confirmed infected, bringing that total to 14,380 people.
At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.
Beijing is facing mounting isolation as the countries introduce travel restrictions, airlines suspend flights and governments evacuate their citizens, risking worsening a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
China’s central bank said it would inject a hefty 1.2 trillion yuan ($173.8 billion) worth of liquidity into the markets via reverse repo operations on Monday as the country prepares to reopen its stock markets after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
Authorities have effectively quarantined Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, sealing off roads and shutting down public transport.
Wuhan – where the virus is thought to have emerged late last year in a market illegally trading wildlife – was about to open two new hospitals for virus patients, state broadcaster CCTV and Xinhua news agency reported. One of the facilities was built in eight days, they added.
The virus have disrupted a string of sporting events across China. Organizers of the all-electric Formula E series said on Sunday they had abandoned plans for a race in the city of Sanya next month.
The Chinese data on the numbers of infections and deaths suggests the new coronavirus 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.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.
However, a string of countries have ramped up border controls. Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to ban foreign nationals who have recently been to China from entering their territories, and Australia followed suit on Saturday.
Russia introduced visa restrictions and will start evacuating Russian citizens on Monday and Tuesday, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported.
The Philippines expanded its travel ban to include all foreigners coming from China, widening an earlier restriction that covered only those from Hubei province. Indonesia also barred visitors who have been in China for 14 days.