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Coronavirus: Global alarm grows as China's capital reports first death

Wuhan (China) (AFP) - China's capital on Monday recorded its first death from a deadly coronavirus as it struggles to contain a rapidly spreading disease that has sparked global alarm, with countries scrambling to evacuate their citizens from the epicentre of the epidemic.

The death in Beijing raises the death toll from the new virus to 82, with more than 2,700 people infected across the nation and cases found in more than a dozen other countries.

Mongolia closed its vast border to vehicles from China while Germany urged its citizens to avoid travelling to the country and Malaysia banned people from central Hubei province, where the pneumonia-like virus emerged, from entering its soil.

In a sign of the mounting official concern, Premier Li Keqiang visited ground zero to oversee containment efforts in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the disease first appeared late last month.

The government has sealed off Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, effectively trapping tens of millions of people, including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to contain the virus as the Lunar New Year holiday unfolds.

The Communist government decided to extend the holiday, initially due to end on January 30, for three days to limit population flows and control the epidemic.

US President Donald Trump said the United States has offered China "any help that is necessary" in combatting the virus.

Beijing's health commission said a 50 year-old-man who visited Wuhan died of respiratory failure on Monday, only 20 days after visiting the city.

More than 700 new infections were confirmed in the country, while the number of suspected cases doubled over a 24-hour period to nearly 6,000.

The youngest infected patient was a nine-month-old baby being treated in Beijing.
In Wuhan, AFP reporters saw construction workers making progress in the building of one of two field hospitals that China is racing to complete by next week to relieve overcrowded facilities swamped with people waiting hours to see doctors. Read More

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