China’s death toll from a new virus rose to 259 on Saturday and a World Health Organization official said other governments need to prepare for "domestic outbreak control" if the disease spreads in their countries, the AP reports. The number of confirmed cases in China rose to 11,791, surpassing the number in the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Meanwhile, Beijing has criticized Washington’s order barring entry to most foreigners who visited China in the past two week, and the virus' rapid spread in two months prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday to declare it a global emergency. In other developments:
- On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a travel ban similar those imposed by the US, Japan, and Singapore.
- South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan, the city at the center of an area where some 50 million people are prevented from leaving in a sweeping anti-virus effort. The evacuees went into a two-week quarantine. Indonesia also sent a plane.
- WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases abroad involved human-to-human transmission. "Countries need to get ready for possible importation in order to identify cases as early as possible and in order to be ready for a domestic outbreak control, if that happens,” says a WHO representative.
- WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that despite the emergency declaration, there is "no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade." That prompted criticism of Washington from a Chinese official, who said that "just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the US rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly not a gesture of goodwill."
- The ruling Communist Party postponed the end of the Lunar New Year holiday in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, for an unspecified “appropriate extent” and appealed to people there to stay home. Another locked-down city in Hubei, Huanggang, on Saturday banned almost all residents from leaving their homes in the most stringent controls imposed yet.
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