Virus death toll in China rises as Xi calls situation grave
BEIJING (AP) — The new virus accelerated its spread in China with 56 deaths so far in what the country's leader called a grave situation, and the government stepped up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the closed-off city at the center of the outbreak.
The figures reported Sunday morning cover the previous 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases for a total of 1,975 infections.
The government also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan. Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.
Canada said it discovered its first case, the man is his 50s who recently flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, China, and then on to Toronto.
President Xi Jinping on Saturday called the spreading illness a grave situation in remarks reported by state broadcaster CCTV. He spoke at a meeting of Communist Party leaders convened on Lunar New Year — the country's biggest holiday whose celebrations have been muted — and underlined the government's urgent, expanding efforts to control the outbreak.
Travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours, the state-owned English-language China Daily newspaper reported, citing the China Association of Travel Services.
Millions of people traveling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China. The vast majority of the infections and all the deaths have been in mainland China, but fresh cases are popping up.
Singapore reported its fourth case on Sunday, a 36-year-old man from Wuhan. The Health Ministry said he did not exhibit any symptoms on his flight. He developed a...