China has reported an uptick in new cases of coronavirus on Friday, boosted by more than 200 people testing positive for the disease in two prisons outside of Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.
China has had more than 75,400 cases of the coronavirus and 2,236 people have died, most in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan where the virus emerged in a wildlife market in December.
Mainland China had 889 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on February 20, the National Health Commission said, up from 394 cases a day earlier. The death toll rose by 118, with most in Wuhan, which remains under virtual lockdown.
Infections found in two jails, in the northern province of Shandong and the eastern province of Zhejiang, made up most of the 258 newly confirmed cases outside Hubei.
Top officials deemed responsible for the outbreaks have been fired, authorities said.
There have been 11 deaths outside mainland China, according to a tally of official statements.
The South Korean city of Daegu is the latest hot spot, after dozens of people were infected in what authorities described as a “super-spreading event” at a church.
The deserted streets, shopping malls and cinemas of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people, provided some of the most striking images outside China of the chilling effect on everyday life.
South Korea reported 52 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, taking the national total to 156, the majority in Daegu.
Another hot spot has been the Diamond Princess cruise ship held under quarantine in Japan since February 3.
Japan has allowed passengers who test negative to leave the ship and hundreds have done so this week, with hundreds more set to disembark on Friday.
Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers on Thursday, the first fatalities from aboard the ship where more than 630 cases account for the biggest cluster of infection outside China.
Amid criticism of the government’s handling of onboard quarantine, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said one of passengers who died had developed a fever on February 5 but was not removed from the ship until February 12.
As international authorities try to stop the outbreak in China from becoming a global pandemic, finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meeting in Saudi Arabia over the weekend are set to discuss risks to the global economy.
“We’re watching the impact with grave concern and keeping a close eye on downside risks,” Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament in Tokyo before leaving for the meeting.
The IMF said it was too early to tell what impact the virus would have on global growth.
Japan and Singapore are on the brink of recession and South Korea on Friday said its exports to China slumped in the first 20 days of February, with the outbreak upending global supply chains.
“We are still hoping that the impact will be a V shaped curve” with a sharp decline in China and sharp rebound after the containment of the virus, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.
The earliest vaccine for the coronavirus would be submitted for clinical trials around late April, China’s Vice Science and Technology Minister Xu Nanping said.
Australian Associated Press