China virus toll passes 250 as travel curbs tightened

The death toll from China’s coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 250, the government said Saturday, as foreign nations tightened restrictions on travelers from China in response to the rapid spread of the illness.

At least 258 people have died and more than 11,000 people have been infected in China by the new coronavirus, according to new figures from officials in hard-hit Hubei province.

Fresh cases have been detected abroad, with more than 20 countries now affected.

The top Communist Party official in Wuhan, the central city of 11 million people where the virus first emerged in December, on Friday expressed “remorse” because local authorities acted too slowly.

Last week, China’s central government finally jumped into action, effectively sealing off Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, and curbing travel across the nation of 1.4 billion people.

But the epidemic has spread far and wide as Chinese people traveled across the country and abroad over the Lunar New Year holiday that started last week.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency, but said it was not recommending any international trade or travel restrictions.

WHO declares China virus outbreak an international emergency

Countries nonetheless intensified travel curbs.

The United States told its citizens not to go to China and urged those already there to leave — drawing a sharp rebuke from Beijing, which said the move was “certainly not a gesture of goodwill.”

On Friday, Washington doubled down, declaring its own public health emergency and temporarily barring entry to any foreign nationals who have traveled to China in the past two weeks.

Japan has joined the US, Britain, Germany and other nations that have recommended that their citizens avoid China.

Singapore’s government barred arrivals from China and transit passengers who visited the country in the past 14 days.

Mongolia will ban Chinese nationals and foreigners coming from the neighboring country until March 2.

(Source: AFP)

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