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Man from Wuhan has died in a Philippines hospital, says WHO, as Xi Jinping orders 1,400 more medical workers into Wuhan

The Philippines has reported the first death from the coronavirus outside China, adding to fears about the spread of the virus as more countries imposed travel restrictions.

The outbreak of the respiratory illness has killed 304 people in China since it was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year. Across China, there were 2,590 new confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the total to 14,380, Chinas National Health Commission said on Sunday. A study published on Saturday by scientists from the University of Hong Kong found that the virus may have infected as many as 75,815 people in Wuhan.

The virus, which has been declared a global public health emergency, has caused at least 100 infections in more than 20 countries, with Britain, Russia and Sweden confirming their first infections over the weekend. Japan has recorded 20 cases, including those involving human-to-human transmission, while the US on Sunday reported its eighth case.

Japan on Saturday confirmed an additional three cases among evacuees from Wuhan, including one, a man in his 40s, who initially tested negative, the health ministry said.

The fatality in the Philippines is a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who died in a hospital in Manila. He appears to have been infected before his arrival in the Philippines.

This is the first reported death outside China, Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organisation representative to the Philippines, said. However, we need to take into mind that this is not a locally acquired case. This patient came from the epicentre of this outbreak.

The Philippine department of health said the man was admitted to hospital on 25 January with a fever, cough and sore throat. He developed severe pneumonia, but in the past few days, the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement, it said. However, his condition then deteriorated and he died within 24 hours.

The man was with a Chinese woman who also tested positive for the virus, health secretary Francisco Duque said. She was the Philippines first case of the virus and is recovering in a hospital isolation ward.

A passenger reads news about a new coronavirus outbreak during a train trip in Hong Kong. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

The news of the mans death was released shortly after the Philippines announced it would immediately halt the arrivals of any foreign travellers from China, joining several other countries that have imposed similar bans in an attempt to contain the virus.

On Sunday, Indonesia also said it will temporarily stop flights to and from mainland China from Wednesday and bar visitors who have been in China for 14 days from entering or transiting.

Stricter border controls, along with the suspension of flights and business operations have sparked fears of a slowdown in China, the worlds second-biggest economy.

The US, Australia, Singapore and Israel have banned foreign nationals from visiting if they have been in China over the previous 14 days, and advised their own citizens not to travel there. Mongolia, Russia, and Nepal closed their land borders, while Papua New Guinea has banned anyone arriving from ports or airports across Asia. Other countries have imposed restrictions on people who have visited Hubei province in the past 14 days.

Vietnam declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus epidemic on Saturday and said it would halt all flights to and from China. The government said it would also stop issuing visas for foreign visitors who had been in China in the past two weeks.

On Sunday, New Zealand said it would bar entry to all foreign nationals arriving from mainland China. The ministry of foreign affairs and trade also raised its travel advice to New Zealanders for all of mainland China to Do not travel, the highest level.

Confirmation of the first death outside China comes after thousands of Hong Kong medical workers voted to go on strike, calling for the government to close the border with mainland China. The financial hub had 13 confirmed cases of the disease as of Saturday, with 112 patients isolated.

More than 3,000 public hospital staff, including doctors and nurses, agreed to a week of phased strike action starting on Monday if the government failed to meet their demands. Staff representatives will meet officials from the citys hospital authority on Sunday for talks.

Quick guide

What is the coronavirus and should we be worried?

What is the virus causing illness in Wuhan?

It is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals, or possibly seafood. New and troubling viruses usually originate in animal hosts. Ebola and flu are examples.

What other coronaviruses have there been?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers) are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals.

What are the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus?

The virus causespneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died are known to have been already in poor health.

Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?

Human to human transmission has been confirmed by Chinas national health commission. As of January 30, the death toll in China stands at 170, with 7,711 confirmed cases of infections. In the past week, the number of confirmed infections has more than tripled and cases have been found in 13 provinces, as well as the municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin. The virus has also been confirmed outsideChina, in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam. There have been two confirmed cases in the UK. The actual number to have contracted the virus could be far higher as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected. Modelling by WHO experts at Imperial College London suggests there could be as many as 100,000 cases, with uncertainty putting the margins between 30,000 and 200,000.

How worried are the experts?

There were fears that the coronavirus might spread more widely during the week-long lunar new year holidays, which start on 24 January, when millions of Chinese travel home to celebrate, but the festivities have largely been cancelled and Wuhan and other Chinese cities are in lockdown.

At what point should you go to the doctor if you have a cough, say?

Unless you have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, then you should treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal. TheNHS advisesthat there is generally no need to visit a doctor for a cough unless it is persistent or you are having other symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing or you feel very unwell.

Should we panic?

No. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. It increases the likelihood that the WorldHealthOrganization will declare the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday evening. The key concerns are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital.

Sarah BoseleyHealth editor andHannah Devlin

In China, cities began to implement more extreme restrictions on residents. In Huanggang the second most affected city after Wuhan authorities barred residents from leaving their homes. Families in the city, also in Hubei province, were to choose one person from their household to leave and buy food and other necessities. The city of Wenzhou in neighbouring Zhejiang province announced similar measures.

In Huanggang, six officials were fired over poor performance in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua news agency reported. It cited the mayor as saying the citys ability to treat patients remained inadequate and that there was a severe shortage of medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks.

Chinas military said it would send 1,400 medical personnel to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. The personnel will staff one of two new hospitals built in the past two weeks, scheduled to open on Monday.

Hundreds queue in Hong Kong to buy masks amid the coronavirus outbreak. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

China is facing increasing global isolation as dozens of airlines suspended flights. Some countries are still trying to evacuate hundreds of their citizens. Australia on Sunday backed down on plans to charge its evacuees $1,000 to be taken to quarantine on Christmas Island, and a plane carrying 100 German citizens and 24 foreign nationals mainly Chinese landed in Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon after being delayed by Russias refusal to let it land and refuel.

The Russian military will start evacuating Russian citizens on Monday, domestic media reports said.

In China itself, cities and villages are becoming ghost towns, with about 50 million people in Hubei province alone under lockdown and many more living under self-imposed quarantine.

In Hubei, roads have been sealed off and public transport shut down, and the province extended its Lunar New Year holiday break to 13 February. However, people are leaving Hubei on foot over a bridge spanning the Yangtze river.

Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/02/coronavirus-deaths-hong-kong-health-workers-to-strike-china-border-