The United States and Japan evacuated their nationals from a quarantined city while British Airways suspended flights to mainland China as deaths from a fast-spreading new virus leapt to 132 and the first cases emerged in the Middle East.
Beijing’s pledge to slay the “devil” coronavirus has won the trust of the World Health Organization (WHO) but confirmation of another 1,459 cases - taking the total to 5,974 in China - only fueled public alarm around the world.
|U.S., Japan pull nationals from China as virus toll jumps
Deaths from the flu-like virus also rose by 26 to 132.
Almost all have been in the central province of Hubei, the capital of which is Wuhan, where the virus emerged last month in a live wild animal market.
The situation remained “grim and complex”, Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged.
In many Chinese cities, streets were largely deserted with the few who ventured out wearing masks. Starbucks stores in Beijing required people to have temperatures taken and posted notices saying it was a state requirement to wear masks inside.
“It’s my first time here in Asia, I feel very unlucky,” said Brazilian tourist Amanda Lee, 23, reluctantly cutting short a trip. “I couldn’t even see the places I wanted, like the Great Wall.”
There was relief, however, among those evacuated from Hubei province, home to about 60 million people and under virtual lockdown. “I was extremely worried that I was stuck there,” said Takeo Aoyama, who arrived in Tokyo on a chartered plane carrying 206 Japanese out of Wuhan, with more flights planned.
Two of the Japanese evacuated had symptoms of pneumonia but coronavirus had not been confirmed, medics said. The virus is weighing heavily on the world’s second-biggest economy. Companies are curbing travel to China, and airlines are cutting flights, with British Airways one of the biggest names in aviation to do so.Reuters