China coronavirus death toll surges: All the latest updates

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

At least 259 people have died and 11,791 people have been infected in China by the new coronavirus, according to new figures from China’s health officials.

Most of the latest fatalities are from Hubei province. The city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak is located in Hubei.

Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

Fresh cases have been detected abroad, with more than 20 countries now affected, including Spain and the UK.

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.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, February 1

China’s Tianjin says all schools, non-essential companies to remain close

China’s city of Tianjin announced on Saturday that all schools and non-essential companies will remain close until further notice to help curb the spread of coronavirus, according to the state media.

Tianjin, which has a population of around 15 million and borders capital Beijing, had 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of 10 pm local time on January 31.

Spain confirms case of coronavirus – health ministry

Spain’s National Centre for Microbiology has confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus after a man was diagnosed with the virus on the remote island of La Gomera in the Canaries, the Health Ministry said.

The patient is part of a group of five people taken into observation on the island and isolated after it was found they had come into contact with a German man diagnosed with the virus.

Pasteur Institute eyes coronavirus vaccine in 2021

France’s Pasteur Institute Foundation said it had set up a taskforce aimed at developing a vaccine against the coronavirus in 20 months.

Christophe D’Enfert, a scientific director with the Pasteur Institute, told reporters in Paris the vaccine could be made available in 20 months if “all goes well”.

“At the end of August, we could enter clinical trials and, provided all goes well, obtain a vaccine candidate within 20 months.”

 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics dismiss cancellation fears

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers dismissed rumours that the Games were endangered by the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have never discussed cancelling the Games. Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with the (International Olympic Committee) IOC and relevant organisations and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary,” organisers said in a statement to the German news agency DPA.

The IOC also said that preparations for the July 24-August 9 Games were continuing as planned.

Japan to enforce special measures for coronavirus from Saturday: NHK

Japan plans to bring forward the date that the coronavirus will become a “designated infectious disease” to Saturday from February 7, public broadcaster NHK said.

Japanese Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato said that the government was considering moving up the date, without elaborating.

The government classified the virus as a designated infectious disease on Tuesday, a move that allows compulsory hospitalisation, stricter screening of people entering the country, and the use of public funds for treatment, among other measures.

In line with regulations, the designation was only set to take effect on February 7 after ordinances are issued.

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