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China warns that we have 'yet to see turning point' over spread of coronavirus

CHINA warned today that despite having “preliminarily contained” the spread of coronavirus, it had “yet to see a turning point.”

It reported 648 new infections, bringing the number of Chinese infections to 76,936 of about 79,000 globally, and 97 new deaths, a slight fall but bringing the overall death toll to 2,442 in China.

Though the outbreak saw the country’s Spring Festival holiday extended, workplaces in many provinces are asking staff to work remotely where possible, and schools across China are conducting online classes. In Beijing, most residential communities have implemented “closed management,” limiting the number of people per household who can go in and out using exit-entry cards and requiring those just returning to the Chinese capital to isolate themselves at home for 14 days.

South Korean President Moon Jae In put his country on the highest anti-virus alert – red – for the first time since a flu outbreak in 2009 that killed 260 people. The alert level allows authorities to shut schools, limit public transport and reduce flights to and from the country. 

The government reported 123 more cases, bringing the total to 556 and five deaths, prompting Mr Moon to say that the outbreak had reached “a crucial watershed.

“We shouldn’t be bound by regulations or hesitate to take unprecedented, powerful measures,” he said.

Iran said a total of eight people had now perished after contracting the virus and that there were 43 confirmed cases of the illness, mostly in and around the city of Qom. Schools were closed for 48 hours from yesterday in 10 provinces and Tehran University suspended classes. 

In Italy the number of cases rose to 115 and a dozen towns closed their perimeters. Dioceses in the north, where all cases have been reported, have ordered holy water fonts to be kept empty and advised churchgoers not to shake hands or kiss when offering each other the sign of peace during mass. 

Though many countries have reported a rise in anti-Chinese racism since the epidemic began, Serbs gathered in Belgrade for a solidarity rally with China on Saturday, waving Chinese flags and holding a concert attended by the Chinese ambassador. Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic said: “Belgrade is thinking about China. We will be by your side so you can overcome these difficulties.”

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