Coronavirus update: Nearly 500 dead in China with no signs of slowdown
The death toll from coronavirus has reached 490 in China. Also, thousands of passengers and crew on two cruise ships in Asian waters have been placed in quarantine.
With no sign of a slowdown, the coronavirus outbreak has so far claimed nearly 500 lives globally, the majority of which are in China. More than 24,500 people have been infected across 25 countries.
This comes as thousands of passengers and crew on two cruise ships in Asian waters were placed in quarantine on Wednesday.
China's National Health Commission said another 65 people had died as of Tuesday, a new daily record taking the toll on the mainland to 490, most in and around the locked-down central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged late last year.
There have been two deaths outside mainland China, both following visits to Wuhan. A man in the Philippines died last week, and a 39-year-old man with underlying illness died in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Across mainland China, there were 3,887 new confirmed infections, for a total of 24,324.
The virus had disrupted air travel with more than two dozen airlines suspending or restricting flights to China and several countries, including the US, banning the entry of anyone who has been in China over the previous two weeks.
But this week, the disruption spread to cruise ships.
About 3,700 people are facing at least two weeks locked away on a cruise liner anchored off Japan after health officials confirmed on Wednesday that 10 people aboard had tested positive for the virus.
In Hong Kong, more than 1,800 passengers and crew were confined to their cruise ship docked in the city during tests for the virus, after three people on board had earlier tested positive.
Passengers on the ship off Japan, the Diamond Princess, detailed their predicament on social media, posting pictures of officials in masks and gowns conducting health checks, room service meals, empty corridors, and a barren deck.
Japan now has 33 infections.
In Hong Kong, authorities said it was not clear how long those aboard the World Dream would be confined to the ship, operated by Dream Cruises, which docked in the former British colony after Taiwan's southern port of Kaohsiung denied it entry on Tuesday.
Hong Kong has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including at least four transmitted locally.
Nearly 230 cases have been reported in some 27 countries and regions outside mainland China, according to a Reuters tally based on official statements.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency but experts say features still unknown include its exact mortality rate and transmission routes.
How are Asian stocks doing?
Asian stocks steadied on Wednesday as Chinese shares nudged higher on hopes of additional stimulus to lessen the financial impact on the world's second-largest economy.
Nearly $700 billion was wiped off mainland Chinese stocks on Monday and many factories remain shut, cities cut off and travel links constricted, fuelling worries about global supply chains.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the epidemic would delay a surge in US exports to China expected from the Phase 1 trade deal set to take effect this month.
Hong Kong health workers have been on strike this week to demand that city authorities seal the border with China.
Neighbouring Macau, a gambling hub and another special administrative region of China, ordered casinos to suspend operations on Tuesday.
Beijing has criticised as an overreaction US travel curbs that bar foreign nationals who have visited China, and urged Washington to do more to help.
Australia and New Zealand were among several countries that kept up efforts to evacuate citizens from virus-hit Wuhan, with the US saying it may add flights to evacuate its private citizens on Thursday.
Wuhan is converting buildings from gymnasiums to sports centres for use as hospitals for up to 10,000 people, state-run Xinhua news agency said.