The death toll of the coronavirus officially surpassed that of Sars, after China’s health authorities reported a further 97 deaths over the course of Sunday, the deadliest day so far. The latest daily increase took the total number of confirmed deaths caused by the “novel coronavirus pneumonia” – officially named by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on Saturday – to 910. All but two of those had occurred in mainland China. The commission on Monday morning reported 3,062 new cases of infection as of Sunday at midnight, taking the total to date to 40,171. Of those in hospital, almost 6,500 are severe cases, according to the data. Sars – or severe acute respiratory syndrome – killed 813 people as it swept through China and other parts of Asia in 2002-03, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures. Sars had a much higher fatality rate (around 10 per cent) than that of the new coronavirus, which has killed around 2 per cent of all those infected. Xi tours Beijing neighbourhood Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected a neighbourhood in Beijing on Monday afternoon as the capital stepped up restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus. State television aired footage of Xi in a surgical mask speaking to a group of residents as well as visiting a neighbourhood committee. According to state news agency Xinhua, Xi asked residents of the community about the supply of daily necessities and public health measures. The capital has increased surveillance and restricted access to residential estates. Similar measures have already been introduced in a number of cities around the country as people return to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday. In a video conference with officials in Wuhan on Monday, Xi expressed his gratitude to frontline medical workers, and offered his condolences for those died in the outbreak. Xi also encouraged officials and people there to win the battle against the outbreak. “If Wuhan wins, Hubei province will win; if Hubei wins, the whole country will win,” state television quoted Xi as saying. EU health ministers to meet The outbreak might get “somewhat worse” before it gets better, according to Janez Lenarcic, European commissioner for crisis management. “It is possible though that before things get better, they could still get somewhat worse,” Lenarcic said in Brussels on Monday. Lenarcic also confirmed that an emergency meeting of health ministers from the bloc’s 28 member states would be held “later this week” to better coordinate Europe’s response. China is the European Union’s second-biggest trading partner, averaging around € 1 billion (US$1.1 billion) in trade per day according to EU statistics. Lenarcic said supply chain problems brought on by the slowdown in economic activity in China were a “serious issue”. “With regard to this epidemic, Chinese factories are affected, and that, by definition, affects global chains and the global economy. But our paramount priority should be devoted to public health measures, and the economic consequences are of course secondary, although not unimportant,” he said. Lenarcic said more than 500 EU citizens had been repatriated from China because of the outbreak. Last month the EU contributed € 10 million towards research for a vaccine for the virus. WHO on alert for new hotspots The WHO is closely watching other Chinese regions for signs that new infection hotspots are emerging as the deadly coronavirus outbreak spreads beyond the epicentre of Hubei, according to Bloomberg. The 10 provinces, which include Zhejiang, Guangdong and Henan, had seen numbers of cases slowly rise, WHO China representative Gauden Galea said on Monday. “Those are the numbers to watch,” he said, adding that while the situation seemed under control it was too early to say the spread of the coronavirus has peaked. Taiwan bars more Hong Kong, Macau citizens Further restrictions on people travelling from Hong Kong and Macau to Taiwan will be introduced on Tuesday because of the escalating outbreak, the island’s Mainland Affairs Council said on Monday. “Except for those who must come to Taiwan to honour their business contracts, transnational personnel transfers and spouses and minors of Taiwanese who have obtained residential status in Taiwan, all others from Hong Kong and Macau will be temporarily stopped from travelling to Taiwan,” said Chen Ming-chi, vice-chairman of the council, which oversees the self-governed island’s policies towards mainland China. Taiwan tourism sector braces as restrictions imposed on Hong Kong, Macau Taiwan had on Thursday imposed limits on new visas to visit for citizens of Hong Kong and Macau. Those still allowed in from Tuesday would need to enter home or hotel quarantine for 14 days, Chen said, adding that students from the two cities would be included in the ban until further notice. He said the measure was necessary to ensure the health of the Taiwanese people. There are 10,840 students from Hong Kong and Macau studying in Taiwan, of whom about 7,900 have left the island for the Lunar New Year holiday, according to the education ministry. Amid a steady rise in cases overseas, numerous governments, including those of Japan, the United States and Singapore, have introduced restrictions on entry for those who have been to China. Countries have also evacuated their citizens from Wuhan, one of the many cities in China to have been put under lockdown. Foreigners infected in China Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that 27 foreigners in China had been infected with the coronavirus as of Monday morning. Two of them had died, three had recovered and been discharged, and the rest were quarantined and under treatment, Geng told a press conference. A US citizen who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus died in Wuhan on Thursday, the first known American death from the disease. Japan’s foreign ministry has said that a Japanese citizen in Wuhan who was suspected of being infected with the virus died on Saturday. Britain raises alert The British government has declared the coronavirus outbreak a “serious and imminent threat”. British health authorities have so far reported eight confirmed cases of infection. Coronavirus: new cases in UK, Spain as work to identify carriers intensifies “The secretary of state declares that the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health,” the Department of Health and Social Care said in a notice on its website on Monday. It said it was taking steps to ensure that the public were protected as far as possible from transmission of the virus. The department said the risk to the public had not changed and the National Health Service was well prepared to deal with the coronavirus. “This is a legal term which we announced this morning as part of changes to make it easier for health professionals to do their job,” the department said on Twitter. As Britain’s caseload increased from four to eight on Monday, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said: “The new cases are all known contacts of a previously confirmed UK case, and the virus was passed on in France. Hubei battles on Health authorities in the province of Hubei, where the disease first broke out in December, on Monday reported 2,618 cases overnight, as its total number of infections rose to almost 30,000. Of the 97 deaths reported nationwide on Sunday, 91 were in Hubei. Almost 1,800 of the province’s patients have recovered and been released from hospital. Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan, the contagion’s epicentre, began twice-daily disinfections on Sunday. Disinfections of areas including those around hospitals, quarantine locations and community facilities would be carried out at 10am and 4pm, the nationalist tabloid Global Times tweeted on Monday. Nine in family confirmed with coronavirus after Hong Kong hotpot dinner The charitable foundation of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing has donated HK$100 million (US$13 million) to Wuhan to support front-line medical workers fighting the outbreak. International experts fly in WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter on Sunday that a WHO team of international experts had left for China to help investigate the outbreak. “I’ve just been at the airport seeing off members of an advance team for the @WHO-led #2019nCoV international expert mission to #China, led by Dr Bruce Aylward, veteran of past public health emergencies,” he said in a tweet from Geneva. Chinese data shows 82 per cent of coronavirus cases deemed mild, WHO says Tedros met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in late January, and the two sides agreed an international mission would be sent. Aylward, a Canadian epidemiologist and emergencies expert, has previously led the WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as well as initiatives on immunisation, communicable diseases control and polio eradication. Cases without China travel history ‘could soar’ Tedros has warned that confirmed cases of coronavirus being transmitted by people who have never travelled to China could be the “tip of the iceberg”. “There have been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to [China],” he tweeted on Sunday, using the virus’ scientific name. “The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.” Although the virus’ spread outside China appeared to be slow, Tedros warned that it could accelerate. “Containment remains our objective, but all countries must use the window of opportunity created by the containment strategy to prepare for the virus’ possible arrival,” he said. Beijing subway quiet As people in Beijing returned to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, state media reported about a 50 per cent drop in subway passengers compared with a normal working day. Commuters arriving without wearing a face mask would be advised to leave the station, China Global Television Network – the international division of state broadcaster CCTV – said on Twitter on Monday. Back in business: Chinese cities cautious as workers return from break State newspaper Beijing Daily and Chinese search engine Sogou have jointly launched a self-test app that uses artificial intelligence to help people determine their risk of coronavirus infection. The tool was developed based on a questionnaire published by the NHC. Users answer questions about factors such as fever and history of exposure to the virus. Chinese expert ‘confident in quarantine work’ Researchers in the southern province of Guangzhou who isolated strains of the coronavirus from patients infected locally found it had not mutated from samples from Hubei, where the outbreak started, indicating that efforts to contain the spread of the infection were having an effect, China’s leading epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said, according to a report on Monday in the Guangdong-based Nanfang Daily . “So far the virus has not mutated in Guangdong, and this makes us more confident in our quarantine work,” Zhong said, adding that the key indicator to assess the epidemic was the growth of new cases. The mortality rate of the coronavirus is about 2.7 per cent, which is higher than influenza but lower than Sars, Ebola or H7N9 avian flu, the paper reported, citing an interview with Zhong on Sunday. The new coronavirus is “highly contagious but less fatal than other coronaviruses”, he said, according to the report. Zhong is leading a panel of medical experts advising the government on how to tackle the outbreak. China’s widespread checks to curb outbreak force suspects out of hiding Guangdong stepped up its containment measures from Monday, requiring people buying fever and cough medicine in the province’s pharmacies to register their name and have their temperature taken, according to state media. Those buying medicine who are found to have a fever or who have arrived from virus hotspots such as Hubei within 14 days must report to the authorities, while pharmacies not following the rules will have their business licence suspended, the report stated. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. 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