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Coronavirus outbreak: Death toll in China rises to 360, exceeds SARS mainland figures

BEIJING: China’s death toll from the coronavirus epidemic soared to 360 on Monday, with deepening global concern about the outbreak and governments closing their borders to people from China.

The number of total infections in China’s coronavirus outbreak has passed 17,200 nationwide with 2,829 new cases confirmed, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

The fresh toll came a day after China imposed a lockdown on a major city far from the epicentre and the first fatality outside the country was reported in the Philippines.

Authorities in Hubei, the province at the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 56 new fatalities. That took the toll in China to 360, exceeding the 349 mainland fatalities from the 2002-3 SARS outbreak.

Struggling to contain the virus, authorities took action in the eastern city of Wenzhou on Sunday, closing roads and confining people to their homes.

Wenzhou is some 800 kilometres (500 miles) from Wuhan, the metropolis at the heart of the health emergency.

Since emerging out of Wuhan late last year, the new coronavirus has infected more than 16,400 people across China and reached 24 nations.

The G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — have all confirmed cases of the virus. They will discuss a joint response, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.

In Thailand, which has 19 confirmed cases, doctors said Sunday an elderly Chinese patient treated with a cocktail of flu and HIV drugs had shown dramatic improvement and tested negative for the virus 48 hours later.

Most of the infections overseas have been detected in people who travelled from Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, or surrounding areas of Hubei province.

The man who died in the Philippines was a 44-year-old from Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the epidemic a global health emergency.

China has embarked on unprecedented efforts to contain the virus, which is believed to have jumped to humans from a Wuhan animal market, and can be transmitted among people.

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