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Death toll soars past 400, two Chinese cities far from nCoV epicentre locked down

February 04, 2020 | 16:44

Two more cities in China's eastern province of Zhejiang have restricted the movement of residents over fears of the spread of the coronavirus (nCoV), far from the epicentre of the health emergency. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed deaths from the outbreak spiked to 427 in China.

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The city of Taizhou and three Hangzhou districts - including the area home to the main office of Chinese tech giant Alibaba - will only allow one person per household to go outside every two days to buy necessities, city officials said.

The areas between them account for more than nine million people.

Taizhou - 850km from the epicentre in Hubei province - will also suspend 95 train services into the city from Tuesday (Feb 4).

Map locating the eastern Chinese cities Taizhou and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province virus lockdown

In addition, all residential communities must only keep one entrance open and residents must present ID each time they come in and out, according to a statement on Taizhou's government's official WeChat account.

Landlords were also forbidden from renting property to people from "severely affected areas such as Hubei" if they had travelled to their hometowns recently, it added.

In the Hangzhou districts, additional measures included mandatory mask wearing and compulsory ID and temperature checks.

The latest restrictions follow similar measures announced Sunday in the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou.

The city has restricted the movement of residents and closed roads.

Zhejiang province has confirmed 829 cases - the highest number outside central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Hong Kong (China) reported its first death from the newly identified coronavirus on Tuesday, the second fatality outside mainland China.

The Hong Kong fatality brought the total death toll from the virus to 427, including a man who died in the Philippines last week after visiting Wuhan.

The total number of infections in China rose by 3,235 to 20,438, and there were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency, although experts say much is still unknown about the pathogen, including its mortality rate and transmission pathways.

Such uncertainties are leading some countries to take extreme measures to stem the spread of the virus.

Australia sent hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, while Japan ordered the quarantine of a cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 people after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for coronavirus.

death toll soars past 400 two chinese cities far from ncov epicentre locked down
Malaysia said that it was ready to receive citizens evacuated from Wuhan, Hubei, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Facebook/Noor Hisham Abdullah)

Malaysia confirms first citizen case of novel coronavirus

Malaysia on Tuesday (Feb 4) confirmed the country's first citizen case of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infected patients in the country to 10.

Health authorities said the 41-year-old Malaysian had travelled to Singapore from Jan 16 to Jan 23 for a meeting, which was attended by international delegates including Chinese nationals.

The man started showing symptoms on Jan 29, nearly a week after he returned to Malaysia.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the man from Selangor is in stable condition and receiving treatment at Sungai Buloh Hospital.

The Health Ministry has alerted its Singaporean counterpart so that the latter can conduct contact tracing, Dr Dzulkefly said.

The other confirmed case was a 63-year-old man from Wuhan, who entered Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Jan 18.

He is now in stable condition and being treated at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Another 20 suspected cases are currently awaiting further test results, Dr Dzulkefly added.

Malaysia previously reported a total of eight coronavirus cases as of Jan 30, all of whom were Chinese nationals.

The country's first three cases of the infection are relatives of a 66-year-old man who was confirmed by Singaporean health authorities to have tested positive for the virus./.