BEIJING - The official death toll from the coronavirus in China jumped on Saturday to 41 from 26 a day earlier, as local media reported a doctor on the frontline of the battle to contain the virus in Wuhan city had died.
More than 1,300 people have been infected globally, as health authorities around the world scramble to prevent a global pandemic.
Doctor Liang Wudong, 62, at Hubei Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan, the city where the virus first appeared and which is in virtual quarantine, died from the virus, China Global Television Network reported in a tweet.
It was unclear if his death was already counted in the official toll of 41, 39 of which were in the central Hubei province.
The total number of confirmed cases in China now stands at 1,287, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Saturday.
The virus has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, France, the United States and Australia.
Australia on Saturday announced its first case of coronavirus, a Chinese national in his 50s, who had been in Wuhan and arrived from China on Jan. 19 on a flight from Guangzhou. He is in a stable condition in a Melbourne hospital.
“Given the number of cases that have been found outside of China and the significant traffic from Wuhan city in the past to Australia, it was not unexpected that we would get some cases,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a news conference.
“This is the first confirmed case. There are other cases being tested each day, many of them are negative, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had further confirmed cases.”
|Pictures uploaded to social media on January 25, 2020 by the Central Hospital of Wuhan show medical staff attending to a patient, in Wuhan, China.|
French authorities reported Europe’s first confirmed cases on Friday evening.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it had 63 patients under investigation, with two confirmed cases, both in people who had traveled to Wuhan.
Human-to-human transmission has been observed in the virus, which health authorities believe originated in a market in Wuhan that traded illegally in wildlife.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus an “emergency in China” this week but stopped short of declaring it of international concern.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is in virtual lockdown. Nearly all flights at the airport have been canceled and checkpoints block the main roads leading out of town.
Authorities have since imposed similar lockdowns on more than 10 cities near Wuhan as part of the ongoing containment effort.
As Wuhan slides into isolation, pharmacies have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been flooded with nervous residents.
The city is rushing to build a 1,000-bed hospital by Monday, state media said.