China virus death toll rises to 56, total cases near 2,000

A turtle for sale at a market in Wuhan the epicentre of a deadly new virus that came from an animal

A turtle for sale at a market in Wuhan the epicentre of a deadly new virus that came from an animal AFP

Health authorities around the world are scrambling to prevent a pandemic.

The video released on Chinese state media on Sunday, set to an uplifting melody, shows a healthy baby crying in a delivery room in Hubei province as it is swiftly taken away to be examined. Hospitals in the city have made similar pleas.

Even the usual influenza that circulates each year has killed between 12,000 and 61,000 people in the United States annually since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One of the reasons local public-health officials aren't hitting the panic button yet is that the Snohomish County patient was so diligent about seeing a doctor as soon as he felt symptoms, partly because he'd been following the news of the outbreak. Only authorized vehicles to carry supplies and for other needs would be permitted after that, the reports said.

Authorities have since imposed transport restrictions on almost all of Hubei province, which has a population of 59 million.

The Snohomish County man who has the United States' first known case of the virus returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on January 15 after traveling solo in Wuhan since November.

"The community needs to understand that it is being well handled", Hazzard said, urging calm.

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The normally bustling streets of Wuhan were deserted this morning, with staff at a hotel telling AFP they had to walk to work. Individuals on business trips arriving from China must conduct self-health management for 14 days, the statement said.

"People in my hometown all suspect the real infected patients number given by authorities", said Violet Li, who lives in the Wuhan district where the seafood market is located.

In Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, authorities have banned people from leaving the city of 11 million people.

People returning to the city from the Wuhan area should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, a city notice said.

Separately, the province of Henan also reported one death from the virus.

Outside of China, the virus has spread to the US, Australia, France, and several Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.

"We're very pleased to say two of those four cases have been cleared". The post was later removed.

The World Health Organisation this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can continue to contain the epidemic.

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At least 56 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in China as the country's leader warned the accelerating spread of the disease is a "grave situation". Some cases are mild, with others causing cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever. While some initial panic could result, WHO's leadership would jolt passive governments into action.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers from China.

There are fears transmission could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel during the holiday, although many have cancelled their plans and airlines and railways in China are providing full refunds for tickets.

The virus outbreak and efforts to contain it have put a dampener on what is ordinarily a festive time of year. The theme park has a 100,000 daily capacity and sold out during last year's Lunar New Year holiday.

Transport bans have been placed in many other cities in Hubei, affecting some 56 million people.

The crisis has seen public attractions such as Beijing's Forbidden City, Shanghai Disneyland and a section of the Great Wall closed as a precaution.

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