Coronavirus: President Xi warns of 'grave situation' as China infection spreads

25 January 2020, 15:10 | Updated: 25 January 2020, 23:12

China has confirmed 1,372 people have been infected with coronavirus and 41 people have died.

It comes as President Xi Jinping told a politburo meeting the country was facing a "grave situation" where the virus is "accelerating its spread".

A report on state TV said resources and experts are being concentrated at designated hospitals for treatment of severe cases, with no treatment delayed due to cost, and supplies of materials to Hubei province and its capital Wuhan to be guaranteed.

The latest tally comes from 29 provinces and cities across China and includes 237 patients in serious condition.

All 41 deaths have been in China, including 39 in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, one each in Hebei and Heilongjiang provinces.

China added three cities to those cut off from transportation, bringing the total to 16 in Hubei province and covering a population greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

Authorities are trying to limit further spread of the disease by preventing people from leaving Wuhan, the city of 11 million where the outbreak originated, and the surrounding area.

The Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks including SARS and Ebola, who arrived in Wuhan late on Friday night to help treat the many patients hospitalised with viral pneumonia.

Two new dedicated hospitals are being built in the city to cope with rising numbers of cases.

Construction has already started on the first facility, with enough space for 1,000 patients, which is expected to be completed by 3 February.

The second, which is designed to have 1,300 beds, is due to be finished within three weeks.

The Ministry of Commerce is co-ordinating an effort to supply more than two million masks and other products from elsewhere in the country.

An unprecedented national lockdown that has kept people from travelling has been expanded to more than 50 million residents, and authorities have cancelled a host of Lunar New Year events.

Temples locked their doors, Beijing's Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and other major tourist destinations closed, and people cancelled restaurant reservations ahead of the holiday.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or involved people who visited the city or had personal connections to those infected.

About two dozen cases in all have been confirmed outside mainland China, nearly all of them in Asia: Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia, Malaysia and Canada.

Canada declared on Saturday that Toronto had identified its first coronavirus case - a resident who recently returned from Wuhan.

"The individual is stable and is hospitalised" the government said in a statement.

The virus has also been detected in the US and France.

While most of the deaths have been older patients, a 36-year-old man in Hubei died on Thursday.

State-run China Global Television Network also confirmed that a doctor who had been treating patients in Wuhan, 62-year-old Liang Wudong, had died from the virus.

The UK Foreign Office is advising against "all travel to Wuhan city".

It said: "If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so."

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