China coronavirus toll reaches 132, nearly 6,000 infected

Beijing (IANS) The death toll in China due to the novel coronavirus increased to 132 on Wednesday, with 5,974 confirmed cases, as foreign governments started to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak.

According to China's National Health Commission, the total number of patients in serious condition stands at 1,239, while 103 people were discharged, reports Efe news.

So far, 9,239 suspected cases have been detected and about 60,000 people have been in contact with patients.

Most of the new cases and deaths have been registered in the province of Hubei, who's capital is Wuhan city.

Meanwhile, British Airways said on Wednesday that it has suspended all its flights to mainland China with "immediate effect" following advice from the UK Foreign Office against all but essential travel as the government was working to evacuate up to 300 Britons from Hubei.

The first Japanese government charter flight with 206 of its nationals arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday from Wuhan as part of an operation to evacuate around 650 citizens.

Some passengers were reportedly exhibiting symptoms, and all were sent to health centres for testing, national broadcaster NHK said.

It added that three more cases were confirmed in Japan, bringing the total to seven, including a bus driver who had never been to Wuhan.

A US plane carrying diplomatic personnel and other citizens departed Wuhan on Tuesday, a State Department spokesman told Efe news.

The armed forces of Indonesia said that they had sent a Hercules military aircraft and two Boeing B737 jets to evacuate hundreds of citizens from Wuhan.

The Philippines intends to repatriate its nationals who wish to leave Hubei, where there are an estimated 300 Filipinos, half of them in Wuhan, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to Efe news.

Two charter flights will travel to Hubei as soon as permits have been obtained from China.

Australia has said that it will evacuate its nationals in Wuhan, where about 600 are registered, to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, where they will be placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

China is yet to give its approval for the operation.

Outside of China, Hong Kong and Macau, other countries with confirmed cases include Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia (three new confirmed on Wednesday), South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, the US, Australia, France, United Arab Emirates and Germany.

Several cases in Taiwan were also included in the national count.

Meanwhile, Pakistan confirmed on Wednesday that four students studying in Wuhan were tested positive for the virus, but there were no confirmed cases in the South Asian nation so far.

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