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China coronavirus death toll hits 26 with 830 infected, more than 33 million people in lockdown

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China's coronavirus has killed 26 people and infected 830 as of Friday, January 24, 2020, the National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed. The worsening case prompted more cities in Hubei province to restrict travel, following the lockdown of Wuhan— the center of the infection.

From 17, the death toll spiked to 26 in just a day, with two of the fatalities reported outside of Wuhan for the first time– one in northern Hebei province which borders Beijing, and another in Heilongjiang which borders Russia and is more than 2 000 km (1 243 miles) from Wuhan, the local government said.

NHC also confirmed that the number of cases had jumped to 830, with 177 deemed severe. Cases were also confirmed in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United States.

As of Friday morning, 10 patients in California, one in Texas, and one in Tennessee were being isolated as they await test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is still investigating the case of a five-year-old boy from Wuhan who tested positive for a virus. 

In Australia, 13 people in New South Wales and Queensland had themselves tested after traveling from Wuhan, in which 11 resulted in negative while two are still awaiting results.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year– China's biggest holiday– transportation was shut down in 10 cities in Hubei, affecting around 33 million people.

Authorities had also canceled all major public events in the capital city of Beijing. Popular destinations Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland said they will also close from Saturday, January 25.

Furthermore, the state media reported that the country is racing to build a hospital in Wuhan particularly for the treatment of coronavirus, which is expected to be ready by February 3.

For now, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided not to declare the outbreak a global emergency yet, partly due to the low number of overseas cases.

However, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it "should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we're not taking it seriously."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he added. "WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day."

On the other hand, Guan Yi, the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center of Influenza Research at the University of Hong Kong, said China might have passed "the golden period of control and prevention."

Guan pointed out that a huge number of people had left Wuhan in the previous week and many carried the virus to other cities, adding that the government should have taken early measures.

Featured image credit: @Sunkway_China/Twitter

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