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Medical workers who were diagnosed with the virus in Wuhan. Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua/PA Images

Coronavirus deaths in China spike as global health emergency could be declared today

The Department of Foreign Affairs has begun advising Irish citizens against all non-essential travel to China.

THE NATIONWIDE DEATH toll from China’s viral epidemic has leapt to 170, the government said today, with more than 1,700 new infections confirmed.

Thirty-seven of the 38 new deaths came in hard-hit Hubei province, the epicentre of a contagion that is causing mounting global fear.

Another death occurred in south-western Sichuan province, the National Health Commission reported.

Tibet also reported its first case, the commission said.

The 38 new deaths marked the biggest single-day jump yet and come as a massive containment effort is under way that has effectively locked down tens of millions of people in Hubei.

Most of the latest reported infections also occurred in Hubei, which tallied 1,032.

The World Health Organization yesterday warned all governments to “take action” over the deadly SARS-like virus.

Hundreds of foreigners were evacuated from the epicentre of the outbreak yesterday. 

A “small number” of Irish people are being evacuated from Wuhan in China as a result of the outbreak. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday began advising Irish citizens against all non-essential travel to China. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said there is a “small number of Irish citizens who are in the province that’s affected in China”. 

“We will make contact with them through our embassy. Some are happy to stay and a very small number want to leave. We’re putting arrangements in place, working with EU partners to facilitate that,” Coveney said.

The contagion has spread to more than a dozen countries, with Finland and the United Arab Emirates becoming the latest to report their first cases.

The WHO has called an urgent meeting for today over whether the viral epidemic should be declared a global health emergency – a designation that could lead to increased international coordination.

Airlines around the world are already either suspending or paring back services in and out of China, following cases of human-to-human transmission outside the country.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that the organisation “deeply regrets” what he called a “human error” in WHO reports last week that referred to the global risk of the outbreak as “moderate” instead of “high”.

- © AFP 2020

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