Confirmed new coronavirus cases top 1,300 globally as holiday begins
BEIJING. KAZINFORM - The number of people with pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus originating in Wuhan topped 1,300 worldwide on Saturday, just as hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens set out on domestic and overseas trips at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday, Kyodo reports.
The death toll has risen to 41 nationwide, Chinese health authorities said, with 39 fatalities in the central province of Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital. Of the 1,300 cases, more than 1,200 are in China and no deaths have been reported elsewhere.
Infection has been confirmed in 29 of the country's 31 provincial-level regions, according to the authorities, while the virus has spread to other Asian nations, the United States, Europe and Australia, sparking fears of a global pandemic.
Since the start of the New Year holiday on Friday, operators of many tourist destinations in China such as Shanghai Disneyland and the Palace Museum in Beijing, known as the Forbidden City, have decided to close the attractions to prevent the spread of the virus.
In the Chinese capital, miaohui, or temple fairs -- a time-honored tradition for Chinese during the weeklong Spring Festival -- have also been canceled.
In Wuhan, with a population of more than 10 million, and several neighboring cities, transport services have been shut down.
The United States reported Friday the country's second infection, while France said it has confirmed Europe's first three cases. Australian health authorities said Saturday the nation's first incidence of the new virus has been identified.
Coronaviruses usually cause common-cold symptoms affecting the nose, sinuses or upper throat, and are spread through sneezing, coughing or direct contact.
Some types, however, lead to more serious, sometimes deadly respiratory diseases, like severe acute respiratory syndrome or Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as SARS and MERS, respectively.
SARS raged in China in 2003 and then spread worldwide, killing 774 people.
The new coronavirus is spreading in Asia and beyond after reports of mysterious pneumonia cases surfaced in late December in Wuhan, located around 1,000 kilometers south of Beijing.