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Coronavirus

China's total number of coronavirus deaths reaches 304

A woman wears a face mask in a market alley in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, February 1, 2020.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- The death toll from a coronavirus epidemic in China had reached 304 as of the end of Saturday, up by 45 from the previous day, state broadcaster CCTV said on Sunday, citing the country's National Health Commission.

All the new deaths were in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the flu-like coronavirus outbreak.

Across China, there were 2,590 new confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the total accumulated number so far to 14,380.

China faced mounting isolation amid increasing global travel curbs and flight suspensions on Saturday. The epidemic has led to mass evacuations of foreign citizens as airlines halt flights. It also risks worsening a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Around two dozen other countries and regions have reported more than 130 cases. Most of them have been in people who had recently travelled to or were visiting from China's central Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

All of the reported deaths from the virus have been in China so far.

The World Health Organization this week declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to ban foreign nationals who have recently been in China from entering their territories. Australia followed suit on Saturday.

The Russian military was to start evacuating Russian citizens from China on Monday and Tuesday, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported.

The number of deaths in Hubei from the outbreak had risen to 294 as of the end of Feb. 1. A further 1,921 cases were detected in Hubei, taking the total in the province to 9,074.

Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is thought to have originated, reported 32 new deaths. A total of 224 people in Wuhan have now died from the virus, for which there is no vaccine.

New confirmed cases also surged by 276 in nearby Huanggang on Feb. 1. One death was reported in the city, about 60 km (37 miles) east of Wuhan.

Hubei has been under virtual quarantine for the last week, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere, China has placed growing restrictions on travel and business.

The province extended its Lunar New Year holiday break to Feb. 13 in a bid to contain the outbreak.

But the province is not totally sealed. People are leaving Hubei on foot over a bridge spanning the Yangtze river, entering Jiujiang city in neighbouring Jiangxi province.

Lu Yuejin, a 50-year-old farmer from a village on the Hubei side of the bridge, was trying to gain passage for her leukaemia-stricken daughter on Saturday.

"Please, take my daughter. I don't need to go past... please, just let my daughter go past," Lu pleaded with the police.

Her cries for help were almost drowned out by a loudspeaker playing a pre-recorded message that residents would not be allowed past to Jiujiang.

Eventually, Lu and her daughter were both allowed through and an ambulance was called to pick them up.

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