The death toll of the rapidly spreading novel Coronavirus jumped to 41 in China and the number of confirmed cases topped 1,200, as millions in the central Chinese province of Hubei continued to be under a government-imposed lockdown to contain the outbreak.
At least 237 people out of the infected are critical, Chinese health officials said Saturday.
More than a dozen cities have had restrictions imposed on public transportations; the exit and entry of residents in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei and a city of 11 million people, are being strictly monitored and regulated.
The first cases of the previously unknown virus were reported from Europe early on Saturday. France also confirmed reports of three people being diagnosed with the infection.
New cases have been reported from Nepal and the US in addition to the earlier ones from Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Flu-like symptoms are common in the “nCoV” infection, which poses a high risk to people who are vulnerable due to their age or other underlying health conditions.
Across China, large-scale activities for the Lunar New Year celebrations, including temple fairs, winter sports, and exhibitions have been canceled in efforts to minimize large gatherings of people in the novel coronavirus-related pneumonia prevention and control.
The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Saturday this year. “Festival events and activities are usually held during the week-long national holiday. Beijing’s landmark Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, will stop admitting visitors from January. 25. The museum said in a statement that it will notify the public of its resumption date,” official news agency Xinhua reported.
Meanwhile, health authorities are rushing to construct a new hospital in only 10 days to treat the rising number of patients infected with the virus. The new Wuhan city hospital is expected to be in use by February 3 and will have a capacity of 1,000 beds.
Construction began after reports claimed a shortage of hospital beds as the virus spread.
“To address the insufficiency of existing medical resources,” Wuhan authorities said in a Friday notice, “the city is building a new facility modeled after the Xiaotangshan Sars hospital in Beijing.”