The death number from China’s new coronavirus grew to 80 on Monday as residents of Hubei province, where the disease originated, were banned from entering Hong Kong amid global efforts to halt the rapid spread of the outbreak.
The number of deaths from the flu-like virus in Hubei province climbed from 56 to 76 overnight, health commission officials said, with four deaths elsewhere. The total number of confirmed cases in China had risen about 30% to 2,744 people.
China’s cabinet said it would extend the week-long Lunar New Year holiday by three days to 2nd February in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. The Hubei city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, is already under virtual lockdown, with severe restrictions on movement in place in several other Chinese cities.
Beijing has called for transparency in managing the crisis, after public trust was eroded by a cover-up of the spread of SARS, a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.
The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.
The virus, believed to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has already spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.