Several countries, including India, scrambled to evacuate their nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll in China soared to 259 and nearly 12,000 people infected with the deadly virus.
The virus that emerged in early December and traced to a market in Hubei province capital Wuhan that sold wild animals, has now spread to more than two dozen nations, including India where the first case is confirmed in Kerala, the US, Britain, Russia and Sweden.
Chinese health authorities on Saturday announced that the death toll has increased to 259 as 46 more people, all but one in Hubei, died in the preceding 24 hours.
With 2,102 new infections, the total confirmed cases in China increased to 11,791, the biggest increase since China began reporting the spread of the virulent virus on January 21.
China’s National Health Commission in its daily report on Saturday said that 1,795 patients remained in critical condition, and 17,988 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of the end of Friday.
So far about 124 cases have been reported in other countries, including India where the first case is confirmed in Kerala.
Several countries, including India, US, Japan, South Korea, UK and Bangladesh, have evacuated their nationals from Wuhan by sending special aircraft.
Air India’s jumbo B747 aircraft carrying 324 Indians, including 211 students, 110 working professionals and three minors, reached New Delhi on Saturday morning from Wuhan city.
Another flight of the airline departed for the Chinese city from New Delhi on Saturday afternoon.
Five doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital who were onboard the first flight are also in the second flight, the Air India spokesperson said.
The Indian Army has set up a quarantine facility in Manesar near Delhi to keep around 300 Indian students being evacuated from China’s Hubei province in view of the coronavirus infection outbreak.
Separately, border-guarding force ITBP has set up a 600-bedded facility in southwest Delhi’s Chhawla area to quarantine and provide basic medical care to those suspected to have been affected by the virus.
The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday but did not advise international trade or travel restrictions.
According to a study by University of Hong Kong scientists, as many as 75,815 people in Wuhan may have been infected with the new coronavirus, the South China Morning Post reported.
The research, published in The Lancet on Saturday, is based on the assumption that each infected person could have passed the virus on to 2.68 others, the Hong Kong-based daily said.