China virus toll passes 250 as travel curbs tightened

The death toll from China's coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 250, the government said Saturday, as foreign nations tightened restrictions on travellers from China in response to the rapid spread of the illness, SIA reports.

At least 259 people have died and more than 11,000 people have been infected in China by the new coronavirus, according to new figures from officials in hard-hit Hubei province. Fresh cases have been detected abroad, with more than 20 countries now affected.

The top Communist Party official in Wuhan, the central city of 11 million people where the virus first emerged in December, on Friday expressed "remorse" because local authorities acted too slowly. Last week, China's central government finally jumped into action, effectively sealing off Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, and curbing travel across the nation of 1.4 billion people.

But the epidemic has spread far and wide as Chinese people travelled across the country and abroad over the Lunar New Year holiday that started last week. The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a global health emergency, but said it was not recommending any international trade or travel restrictions.Countries nonetheless intensified travel curbs.

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