Coronavirus Death Toll In China Reaches 1,523, Confirmed Cases Over 66,000

Residents wearing face masks and pyjamas are seen on a street in Shanghai China as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus

China reports major drop in new virus cases; 143 new deaths

The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,500 on Saturday as Beijing ordered people returning to the capital from holiday to self-quarantine for 14 days in another drastic effort to contain the outbreak.

All but four of the 143 new deaths were in Hubei province. It was unclear how authorities would enforce the measure. Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of transport, said travel volumes were only about one-fifth to one-sixth the normal level.

China said over 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the virus, and six have died.

When they returned to the Chinese capital, which houses more than 20 million people, residents were told to "quarantine, quot; or go to designated places to quarantine them".

"Those who refuse to accept home or centralised observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under law", it said.

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China is struggling to get the world's second largest economy going after the annual Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended by 10 days to help contain the highly contagious virus.

The biggest cluster of infections outside China has been on a cruise liner quarantined in a Japanese port, with 218 people on board confirmed as infected and taken to hospital.

Those who don't comply could face legal action, the notice said.

On 11 February, following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practices for naming of new human infectious diseases, WHO has named the disease, COVID-19, short for "coronavirus disease 2019". The death toll is at least 1,526, including three people outside mainland China.

The commission also reported 2,641 new cases of the COVID-19 strain, with the vast majority in Hubei. Employees must wear masks all day and report their temperature twice a day.

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The scale of the epidemic swelled this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.

Thailand has recorded one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 34 since January, a health ministry official said today.

Speaking at the 12th meeting of the central Military Commission, the Chinese President said that safeguarding the public's health is a major mission of the nation, adding that the current fight against the virus is a significant test of China's governance system.

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The WHO has cautioned that it was "way too early" to make any predictions about the disease's trajectory.

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"Since the beginning of the outbreak, the government has attached importance to both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine by mobilising the strongest scientific research and medical forces in both fields to treat the patients", Wang Hesheng, deputy head of China's National Health Commission, said.

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