China(ANN)-The public health emergency associated with the killer coronavirus that has already spread to over a dozen countries has raised global alarms, with the number of confirmed deaths inside China passing the 300 mark, and the first fatality from the outbreak outside China reported in the Philippines.
Health authorities in China’s central Province of Hubei, the epicenter of the epidemic, reported 45 new fatalities on Sunday.
There was also a significant increase in confirmed infections in the province where 1,921 new cases were recorded.
This brings the national total to more than 13,700, based on numbers previously issued by the government in Beijing.
The never-before-seen virus was first reported in December in a seafood and poultry market in the provincial capital of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million people.
The infection began to spread quickly beyond the province and crossed the country’s borders soon, with cases being detected in the United States, Canada, Australia, and several south Asian countries.
China pumps cash into markets amid epidemic
China’s central bank is planning to pump 1.2 trillion yuan ($173.8 billion) into the economy to support the fight against the outbreak.
The People’s Bank of China said it would inject the fund into the markets to maintain “reasonable and abundant liquidity” in the banking system, as well as a stable currency market.
The country is prepared to reopen its stock markets on Monday.
First death outside China reported in Philippines
The Philippines reported its fist death outside China in the capital Manila on Sunday, according to Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the representative of World Health Organization (WHO) to the country.
Abeyasinghe noted that the case was a locally acquired case, since the patient had traveled to the Philippines from China’s Wuhan, the hardest hit city, in January.
According to Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque, the patient — a 44-year-old Chinese man — who died in a Manila hospital, arrived in the Philippines with a Chinese woman who was also diagnosed with the virus infection. She is recovering in hospital.
The news of the death in the Philippines broke shortly after Manila announced it would immediately halt the arrivals of any foreign travelers from China.
‘No visitors from China’
Many states around the world have put in place border closures to arrivals from China.
The US and Australia say foreigners, who have recently visited China, will not be allowed to enter.
New Zealand also announced it would ban all foreign nationals arriving from mainland China as of Monday, for a period of 14 days.
Authorities have also raised travel advice to New Zealanders for all of mainland China to “Do not travel,” the highest level.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement that “there are still a range of unknowns in the way the virus is being transmitted; we should take a precautionary approach.”
Vietnam bans all flights to and from China
Vietnam has also declared a public health emergency over the virus outbreak, saying it would halt all flights to and from China.
It would also stop issuing visas for foreign visitors who had been in China in the past two weeks.
Japan, Pakistan and Italy have earlier announced similar travel restrictions.
Global health officials have, however, advised against such measures.
The World Health Organization warned on Friday that such restrictions “can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies.”
Airlines around globe suspending flights to China
The impact of the virus outbreak on businesses and tourism is also widening as airlines based in Europe, North America and Asia are suspending their flights to China.
International airlines including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines, British Airways, Germany’s Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Finland’s Finnair, Air Asia and Air India have all announced measures to stop flying to China entirely or cut the number of flights they are operating to the country.
Saudi Arabia’s state airline, Saudia, and Oman also announced suspension of flights to China on Sunday.
Air Canada, with at least 33 weekly flights to China, has also canceled select flights.
Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines have not suspended flights, but have adopted additional screening measures to passengers and crew traveling from China.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM said they are monitoring developments but continue to fly to China.
Foreign governments evacuating citizens from China
Meanwhile, several countries are evacuating their citizens from Hubei.
Saudi Arabia’ media reported Sunday that authorities had evacuated 10 students from Wuhan.
Chinese officials also approved the special flight that flew the students to the kingdom, the report said.
The Russian military will begin evacuating Russians from the affected regions in China, Russian media reported.
Indonesia and Turkey also sent planes to transfer their citizens home from Hubei.
South Korea, India and Bangladesh have already flown hundreds of their citizens home from Wuhan.
Japan to strengthen testing ahead of Olympics
Less than six months before the 2020 Olympic Games due to open in Japan, the epidemic in China has sparked rumors that the games might be canceled or postponed.
Olympic organizers, however, brushed off the rumors on Sunday, saying they were “not considering” cancelling the Olympics and Paralympics and were instead working hard to “draw any countermeasures whenever necessary.”
Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike has promised to “implement even more stringent measures to tackle infectious diseases.”
The governor said she has discussed the issue “with senior officials to assure the safety and security of people in Tokyo — specifically focusing on ways to prevent the spread of the virus and strengthen testing systems.”
The Tokyo Olympics begin on July 24 with the Paralympics starting on August 25.
Japan has already warned its citizens against non-essential travel to China.