China Reports 121 More Coronavirus Deaths, Spike in New Cases

Residents wearing face masks and pyjamas are seen on a street in Shanghai China as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus

China reports major drop in new virus cases; 143 new deaths

Medical workers account for about 3.8% of confirmed cases, Mr Zeng added.

The measure came as Egypt confirmed the first coronavirus case in Africa.

It comes as 1,384 people have died from the virus, which originated in Wuhan, with more than 64,000 cases.

A top Chinese official, in an interview with Reuters, acknowledged that coronavirus was a huge challenge, but defended Beijing's management of the epidemic and lashed out at the "overreaction" of some countries.

Battling the outbreak is a "big test for the country's governance system and governance ability", Xi said as he chaired a political meeting on government reforms this week, according to state media. She was the third person to die of the virus outside of China, with the other fatalities occurring in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Citizens can not leave the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou and a few others in Hubei province, while Shanghai and Beijing have only put movement restrictions in place for some smaller communities such as building blocks or neighbourhoods.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country.

The U.S. government was preparing to fly home Americans from aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that's been quarantined at Yokohama in Japan, Wall Street Journal reported.

The death toll rose by 143 to 1,523, it said, with most of the new deaths in central Hubei province and in particular the provincial capital of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the outbreak began in December.

People returning to Beijing from extended holidays have been ordered to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine to help prevent spread of the new coronavirus, while hard-hit Hubei province reported more than 2,400 new cases.

Employees must wear masks all day and report their temperature twice a day as fever is one of the virus' main symptoms.

The scale of the epidemic increased significantly this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for qualifying cases, adding thousands of new patients to their province's figures.

The move will ensure patients get treated as early as possible, instead of having to wait for laboratory tests, health officials said.

The revision added almost 15,000 patients to Hubei's tally on Thursday, with the World Health Organization noting that cases going back weeks were retroactively counted. And WHO is seeking clarity on how clinical diagnoses are being made so that other respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data.

China reported 2,641 new virus cases Saturday as it escalates measures to contain the outbreak and reassure an anxious public.

Liang Tao, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said at a Saturday briefing that Chinese banks have provided more than 537 billion yuan ($76.9 billion) in credit support to industries such as retail, catering and tourism that have been most severely affected by the outbreak.

WHO guidelines have been developed and distributed for health workers taking care of hospitalized patients with acute infections.

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