BEIJING (AP) — China completed building a 1,000-bed hospital for treating victims of a new virus that has caused 362 deaths and more than 17,000 infections at home and abroad, according to the latest figures Monday.
Reopening of schools was also delayed in hardest-hit central Hubei province, where the specialized hospital in the provincial capital Wuhan was completed in just 10 days. A second hospital with 1,500 beds is under construction. Restrictions were tightened still further in one city by allowing only one family member to venture out to buy supplies every other day.
China’s new totals of 361 deaths and 2,829 new cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the Chinese total to 17,205, come as other countries continued evacuating hundreds of their citizens from Hubei and imposed travel restrictions affecting Chinese or people who recently traveled in the country.
The World Health Organization said the number of confirmed cases will keep growing because thousands of specimens from suspected cases have yet to be tested.
The Philippines banned the entry of all non-citizens from China after two cases were confirmed there, including the only death outside China. The US, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and WHO’s guidance that such measures were unnecessary.
About 150 cases have been reported in two dozen other countries. The Philippine Health Department said a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan died from the virus and his companion remained hospitalized. Vietnam counted its seventh case, a Vietnamese American man who had a two-hour layover in Wuhan on his way from the US to Ho Chi Minh City.
The US also reported its ninth case, a woman in northern California who recently traveled from Wuhan.
Also, six officials in the city of Huanggang, next to Wuhan in Hubei province, were fired over “poor performance” in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It cited the mayor as saying the city’s “capabilities to treat the patients remained inadequate and there is a severe shortage in medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks.”
The trading and manufacturing center of Wenzhou, with nearly 10 million people in coastal Zhejiang province, confined people to their homes, allowing only one family member to venture out every other day to buy necessary supplies. Huanggang, home to 7 million people, imposed similar measures on Saturday.
With no end in sight to the outbreak, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have extended the Lunar New Year holiday break, due to end this week, well into February to try to keep people at home and reduce the spread of the virus. All Hubei schools are postponing the start of the new semester until further notice.
The crisis is the latest to confront Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has been beset by months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the re-election of Taiwan’s pro-independence president and criticism over human rights violations in the traditionally Muslim territory of Xinjiang. Meanwhile, the domestic economy continues to slow, weighed down by slowing demand and the trade war with Washington.