China coronavirus death toll soars to 361; stocks plunge as markets reopen
China is struggling to deal with the virus, with more than 17,000 confirmed cases and 361 deaths. On Monday, the Shanghai Composite index fell nearly 9% before recovering slightly, while commodity prices also slumped.
The death toll in China’s coronavirus outbreak has risen to 361 with more than 17,300 people infected globally. Fears over the epidemic triggered a sharp fall in Chinese shares as markets reopened on Monday after the Lunar New Year holiday.
China's National Health Commission said that 2,829 new cases of coronavirus were reported nationwide on Sunday, taking the total number of infection to 17,205.
The death toll rose to 361 with 57 deaths reported on Sunday. Fifty-six were reported from China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak, and one from southwest Chongqing, the commission said.
Coronavirus spreads outside China
The flu-like virus has spread to more than two dozen other countries and regions, with the first death outside of China reported on Sunday, that of a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after travelling from Wuhan.
India also reported its second coronavirus case in Kerala. Many countries have barred foreigners arriving from China and are quarantining their own citizens.
Latest figures from China's National Health Commission reveal that, alongside the confirmed cases, there were 21,558 suspected cases, 152,700 people "under medical watch" and 475 people discharged from hospital.
Cities like Wuhan – the capital of Hubei province -- remain in virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted, and China is facing mounting international isolation as well due to restrictions on flights to and from the country.
At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, including the US, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.
The US confirmed 11 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.
On Sunday, 323 more Indians and seven Maldivians were brought back by air from Wuhan, taking the number of evacuees to 654.
The Indian government also announced a temporary suspension of the e-visa facility for Chinese travellers and foreigners residing in the neighbouring country and issued a fresh advisory saying anyone with travel history to China since January 15 can be quarantined.
More than 250 people from 30 countries arrived in France on Sunday after being flown out of Wuhan. Australia evacuated 243 people, many children, from Wuhan on Monday and will quarantine them on a remote island in the Indian Ocean off its northwest coast.
Australia on Saturday followed the US in barring entry to all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China.
The virus is thought to have emerged late last year in a Wuhan market illegally trading wildlife. It can cause pneumonia and spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes.
It has created alarm because it is spreading quickly and there are still important unknowns surrounding it, such as its death rate and whether it is able to spread before any symptoms show.
The number of deaths in China from the new virus has now passed the total Chinese toll from the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus which emerged from China and killed more than 800 people around the world.
Chinese stocks plunge
Meanwhile, Chinese stock and commodity markets plunged at the open in their first session since January 23, when the outbreak of the newly identified virus had claimed only 17 lives in Wuhan.
The Shanghai Composite index fell nearly 9% before recovering slightly, while commodity prices also slumped. Manufacturing, materials, and consumer goods companies are among the hardest hit, as healthcare shares soar.
The fall came despite China's central bank announcing new measures to ease the impact of the outbreak.
The People's Bank of China unexpectedly lowered short term interest rates as part of its attempts to relieve pressure on the economy from the rapidly spreading virus. It is also pumping an extra 150 billion yuan ($22 billion) into the economy, a move aimed at ensuring there is enough liquidity in the banking system.