President Xi Jinping Says China Facing A 'Grave Situation' As Coronavirus Death Toll Increases

Sarah Turnnidge

China’s president has warned of a “grave situation” facing the country, as the number of coronavirus death jumped to 41 on Saturday. 

At the start of China’s biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, the mood across the nation was subdued as the crisis intensified, with the confirmed number of dead rising from 26 to more than 40 in the space of a day. 

Major celebrations, including those in the capital of Beijing, have been called off, and Hong Kong has also scrapped planned events aster declaring a virus emergency and restricting links to mainland China. 

Australia on Saturday confirmed its first four cases, Malaysia confirmed three and France reported Europe’s first cases on Friday, as health authorities around the world scrambled to prevent a pandemic.

A total of 31 people have now been tested for the virus in the UK, according to the latest statement released by the Department of Health and Social Care on Saturday. 

All of the tests have been confirmed as negative, meaning there are not yet any officially recorded cases of the virus in the UK. 

But Border Force agents and airlines have been brought in to work with health officials in order to track down the 2,000 people believed to have travelled from Wuhan – where the virus is understood to have originated – to the UK in the past fortnight, so wellbeing checks can be carried out. 

The United States is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from Wuhan.

The 11m people residing in the major city have been told not to leave unless in exceptional circumstances, and all public transport routes have been suspended. 

In Hong Kong, with five confirmed cases, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said flights and high speed rail trips between the city and Wuhan will be halted. Schools in Hong Kong that are currently on Lunar New Year holidays will remain closed until February 17.

China’s President Xi Jinping, saying the country is facing a grave situation, held a politburo...

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