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Coronavirus outbreak: Deaths rise to 132 in China as countries speed up evacuation missions

BEIJING: Countries on Wednesday began evacuating their citizens from the Chinese city hardest-hit by an outbreak of a new virus that has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad.

China’s latest figures cover the previous 24 hours and add 26 to the number of deaths, 25 of which were in the central province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. The 5,974 cases on the mainland marked a rise of 1,459 from the previous day, although that rise is a smaller increase than the 1,771 new cases reported on Monday. Dozens of infections of the new type of coronavirus have been confirmed outside mainland China as well.

A Japanese chartered flight carrying 206 evacuees from Wuhan included some who had coughs and fever on the plane, Kyodo News reported, citing health ministry officials. They were expected to be taken by ambulances to a Tokyo hospital specializing in infectious diseases.

Takeo Aoyama, an employee at Nippon Steel Corp’s subsidiary in Wuhan, told reporters he was relieved to be able to return home.

“We were feeling increasingly uneasy as the situation developed so rapidly and we were still in the city,” Aoyama told reporters, wearing a white surgical mask that slightly muffled his voice.

Another of the evacuees, Takayuki Kato, said their temperatures were taken before the plane left Wuhan and again by a doctor on board.

Both Kato and Aoyama said they didn’t see anyone with obvious symptoms or feeling ill near their seats. All of the passengers were expected to undergo further health checks and were expected to stay home until a lack of infection was confirmed.

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