China says more than 3,000 medical staff infected

More than 3,000 medical staff in China have been infected by the new coronavirus that emerged in the country late last year, an official at China's National Health Commission has said.

Liang Wannian told reporters during a joint press briefing with the head of the World Health Organization delegation to China, Bruce Aylward, the infections have mostly occurred in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak that has killed nearly 2,600 to date in the mainland. The infections were likely due to the lack of protective gear and fatigue, he said

China insisted they are making progress in containing the virus, citing slowing infection rates thanks to unprecedented travel lockdowns and quarantines in or near the outbreak's epicentre.

But the spread of the virus in other parts of the world has accelerated over the past week, with Iran, South Korea and Italy emerging as the worst new hotspots. 

Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait also announced on Monday their first cases of the virus, bringing the total number of countries with infections above 31.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) delegation that visited China amid the novel coronavirus epidemic, says that China's incredibly difficult measures taken to control the virus spread has prevented hundreds of thousands of cases in the country. 

Speaking at a joint press briefing with officials from China's National Health Commission (NHC), Bruce Aylward says that there has been a general downward trend in the number of infections reported by the NHC.

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