Deadliest day for coronavirus as mainland China records 86 fatalities

Updated: Feb 09, 2020, 07:53 IST | Agencies | Beijing

As researchers race to find treatments to fight the virus, death toll from China soars to 722 on Saturday; Chinese government issues regulations to severely punish people who disrupt the epidemic control work

Vietnamese residents queue to receive free protective facemasks at a distribution centre in Hanoi. Pic/AFP
Vietnamese residents queue to receive free protective facemasks at a distribution centre in Hanoi. Pic/AFP

Beijing: The death toll from China's coronavirus outbreak soared to 722 on Saturday, as Hong Kong imposed a mandatory quarantine on mainland arrivals to block the spread of an epidemic that has caused global panic. With 86 more people dying in mainland China—the highest one-day jump so far—the toll was closing in on the 774 killed worldwide during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

A Japanese man in his 60s with a suspected coronavirus infection also died in hospital in Wuhan, the Japanese foreign ministry said, adding that it was "difficult" to confirm if he had the illness. The epidemic has prompted the government to lock down cities home to tens of millions of people, as anger mounts over its handling of the crisis, especially after a whistleblowing doctor fell victim to the virus. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, on a visit to quarantined Wuhan this week, instructed officials to take a "wartime" approach as they implement drastic measures that include combing the city for feverish residents.

With panic spiralling around the globe—more than 320 cases have emerged in nearly 30 other countries—researchers are racing to find treatments and a vaccine to fight the virus. On Saturday, Shanghai became the latest jurisdiction to order residents to wear masks in public places, warning that those who don't cooperate will be "seriously" dealt with according to the law. Anger over the government's handling of the health emergency erupted on social media on Friday after the death of a Wuhan doctor who was silenced by police after he had raised the alarm about the emerging virus threat in December.

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