Coronavirus cases in China rise to 11,000 infections, 259 deaths
The number of people infected with the new coronavirus in China has risen to more than 11,000, while a total of 259 people have died, Chinese health officials said on Saturday, DPA reported.
Health officials in Hubei province in central China, the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis, said an additional 1,347 new cases had been reported in the province alone, bringing the number of infections there to 7,153.
Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, and many other Chinese cities have been placed on lockdown.
The number of people infected and China's national death toll are expected to climb further once other regions report their latest statistics.
According to DPA, more than 100 other people have become ill in about two dozen countries across the globe. On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency as the virus has spread around the world.
The European Union and several countries have already flown their citizens out of China, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, Britain and most recently Sri Lanka and India.
A German air force jet left Wuhan early Saturday to evacuate 130 people - 90 German citizens and around 40 citizens of other countries. It was expected to arrive in Germany Saturday afternoon.
The returnees are to be quarantined at an army barracks near Frankfurt airport.
Some countries have also moved to limit the entry of those who have travelled to China in a bid to stop the spread of the illness.
The United States on Friday announced a public health emergency in order to pre-empt an coronavirus outbreak.
The measures include a ban on the entry of foreign nationals - other than immediate family of US citizens and permanent residents - who have travelled in China within the last 14 days.
The US took the "unprecedented" action of issuing a 14-day quarantine on 195 US citizens who recently returned from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the health crisis.
Meanwhile, Delta Airlines said it will suspend all US to China flights starting on February 6, citing concerns of the new coronavirus.
Hundreds of flights to and from China have been cancelled around the world, including those run by Air Canada, Lufthansa, British Airways Turkish Airlines, United, American Airlines, KLM and Air France.
Australian carrier Qantas suspended flights to China on Saturday until the end of March.
Russia announced earlier this week it was closing its land border with China, similar to steps taken by China's other neighbours. Moscow reported its first case of the virus on Friday.
Both the US and Japan told citizens not to travel to China, with Washington issuing a warning on par with its advisories for Afghanistan and Iran.
The Italian government on Friday declared a six-month state of emergency in response to the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the country.
The decision resulted in 5 million euros (5.5 million dollars) being earmarked for civil protection purposes.
Italian cruise company Costa announced on Friday that it would not allow anyone who had been in China in the last 14 days on board - including guests, visitors or crew members of any nationality.
The coronavirus broke out at a seafood market in Wuhan that reportedly sold exotic animals for consumption - similar to the outbreak of SARS.
SARS, a disease that infected 8,000 people and killed 800 globally, was linked to the consumption of civet cats, another exotic meat. The coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses.