The coronavirus epidemic has killed another person outside China, the second person to die away from the epicentre of the deadly illness.
Coronavirus has killed a second person outside mainland China with Hong Kong confirming one of its citizens died from the deadly disease today.
Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority confirmed the 39-year-old had died at Princess Margaret Hospital and had an underlying illness.
A spokesman for the Hospital Authority said the victim was a resident of Hong Kong who travelled to the Chinese city of Wuhan — the epicentre of the outbreak — on January 21 and returned to the financial hub two days later via the city’s high-speed train.
The health authority said the man had not visited any health care facilities, seafood or wet markets and had not been exposed to any wild animals before contracting the disease.
The semi-autonomous territory shut almost all of its land and sea border crossings with the mainland at midnight after medical workers began a strike demanding the border be closed completely.
More than 2000 hospital workers went on strike yesterday, and the union kicked off an even bigger walkout today.
Hong Kong was hit hard by SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in 2002-03, an illness from the same family of viruses.
The 39-year-old is only the second person to die outside of China after the disease claimed the life of a Filipino who had also previously travelled to Wuhan.
As the rest of the world struggles with the deadly epidemic, Taiwan is instead battling a different disease.
The country’s health authority confirmed swine flu, otherwise known as the H1N1 virus, had killed at least 56 people in the past three months.
The island’s Centre for Disease Control confirmed the number today with local media estimating 13 people had been killed by swine flu in the past week alone.
According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, 13 people between the ages of 47 and 97 had died from the flu.
“During this season, there have been 771 influenza cases with severe complications since October 1, including 56 deaths,” a spokeswoman from the CDC said.
She implored people to get the flu vaccine because “none of the 43 patients who died from flu complications in the past three months had been vaccinated”.
Taiwan is also treating 10 people with coronavirus.
Earlier today, during the opening of a new hospital to house the thousands of coronavirus patients, Chinese President Xi Jinping said “we have launched a people’s war of prevention of the epidemic”.
Mr Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus.
He also said those who neglect their duties will be punished, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The mainland’s latest figures of 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed infections with the new coronavirus were up from 361 deaths and 17,205 cases the previous day.
Other countries are continuing evacuations and restricting the entry of Chinese or people who have recently travelled in the country.
A plane carrying Malaysians from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province where the illness has been concentrated, arrived in Kuala Lumpur this morning, and the 133 people on board were to be screened and quarantined for 14 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus.
Medical teams from the People’s Liberation Army were arriving in Wuhan to relieve overwhelmed health workers and to staff the new 1000-bed hospital.
It was built in just 10 days, its prefabricated wards equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and ventilation systems.
A 1500-bed hospital also specially built for patients infected with the new virus is due to open within days.