Mainland death toll hits 1,770; cases top 70,000 - RTHK
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Mainland death toll hits 1,770; cases top 70,000

2020-02-17 HKT 08:15
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  • Doctors scan a patient's lungs at a temporary hospital built for Covid-19 patients in Hubei province. File photo: AP
    Doctors scan a patient's lungs at a temporary hospital built for Covid-19 patients in Hubei province. File photo: AP
The number of people infected with the new coronavirus in China passed 70,000 on Monday as international experts began meetings with their Chinese counterparts on how to tackle an epidemic that has caused global concern.

The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,770 after 105 more people died, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

More than 70,500 have now been infected nationwide by the virus, which first emerged in December in central Hubei province before spreading across the country.

Worries about its spread remain high and the epidemic's reach was highlighted by the US announcing that more than three dozen Americans from a cruise ship quarantined off Japan were infected.

The number of new cases of the Covid-19 strain spiked last week when officials in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases to include people diagnosed through lung imaging.

The number of new cases in the province on Monday was around 100 higher than those on Sunday but still sharply down from those reported on Friday and Saturday.

The latest figures came as the head of the World Health Organization said international experts in a WHO-led joint mission had arrived in Beijing and had had their first meeting with their Chinese counterparts.

"We look forward to this vitally important collaboration contributing to global knowledge about the #COVID19 outbreak," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

Mi Feng, National Health Commission spokesman, said on Sunday that slowing case numbers nationally showed that China was controlling the outbreak.

But Tedros has warned it is "impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take".

The UN health body has also asked China for more details on how diagnoses are being made.

Mainland authorities have placed about 56 million people in Hubei and its capital Wuhan under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.

This includes broad instructions that residential compounds and villages be "sealed off" from unnecessary visitors, with tenants' outings "strictly managed".

Local authorities elsewhere in China have also introduced measures to try and stop the virus spreading. (AFP)
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Last updated: 2020-02-17 HKT 09:27