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New Chinese city locked down over virus, first foreign death

BEIJING: China imposed a lockdown Sunday on a major city, Wenzhou, far away from the epicentre of a coronavirus epidemic, as its death toll from the disease soared to 304 and the first foreign fatality was reported in the Philippines.

The events added to deepening concerns about the potential for the virus to spread, as more governments around the world closed their borders to people from China.

Since emerging out of the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the coronavirus has infected nearly 14,500 people across China and reached 24 countries.

Many of the infections overseas have been of people who had travelled from Wuhan, an industrial hub of 11 million people, or surrounding areas of Hubei province.

The person who died in the Philippines was a 44-year-old man from Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the epidemic a global health emergency.

China has embarked on unprecedented efforts to contain the virus, which is believed to have jumped to humans from a Wuhan animal market and can be transmitted among people in a similar fashion to the flu.

Lockdowns

Those efforts have included extraordinary quarantines in Wuhan and surrounding cities, with all transport routes out banned, effectively sealing of more than 50 million people.

But 10 days after locking down Wuhan, authorities on Sunday announced similar curbs on people movement in Wenzhou, 800 kilometres (500 miles) away).

Wenzhou is a coastal city of nine million people in Zhejiang province, part of the eastern industrial heartland that has powered China’s economic rise over recent decades.

Only one resident per household is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities, and 46 highway toll stations have been closed, authorities announced.

The city had previously closed public places such as cinemas and museums and suspended public transport.

Zhejiang has 661 confirmed infections, with 265 of those in Wenzhou, according to the government.

This is the highest tally for any province in China after ground-zero Hebei.

More deaths

The death toll in China climbed to 304 on Sunday after authorities reporting 45 new deaths from the previous day.

There were 2,590 new confirmed cases in China, bringing the total to nearly 14,500.

The number of confirmed infections in China is far higher than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak of 2002-03.

SARS, which is caused by a pathogen similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people worldwide — most of them in mainland China and Hong Kong.

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