People line up to buy protective face masks in central China, outside a shop in Hanoi on February 10, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
China says dozens of foreigners in the country have been infected with the coronavirus, two of whom have died, as the total death toll from the epidemic inside the country is approaching 1,000.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that the two foreigners who had died of the viral illness are an American and a Japanese man.
This is while the death toll from the outbreak inside Chin has passed 900 on Monday, with 40,000 confirmed infections across the country.
The virus, with a mortality rate of about 2 percent, was first reported in December in a seafood and poultry market in the provincial capital of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million people.
Virus spread could be tip of iceberg: WHO
The fast-spreading virus quickly passed the China borders and prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to send a team of experts to the capital Beijing for on Monday to help assess the outbreak.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been "some concerning instances" of transmission from people who had not been to China.
"The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg," he added.
Chinese return to work
Millions of Chinese are returning to work from the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended due to the outbreak.
A large number of Chinaís factories and stores, and major international manufacturers, however, remain closed as part of an attempt by authorities to prevent further spread of the virus.
The shutdowns, which are having a major impact on the Chinese economy, are also threatening some big car makers with a shortage of supplies.
Meanwhile, Chinese media reported that the central bank pumped $129 billion into the financial system on Monday.
According to the report, the money has gone in via "reverse repos," which is a reverse repurchase agreement.
A reverse repo is a process in which the central bank purchases securities from commercial banks through bidding, with an agreement to sell them back in the future.
60 more positive cases on Japan cruise ship
Around 60 more people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus on a cruise ship that has been in quarantine since arriving off the Japanese coast early last week, with some 3700 people on board.
The new cases brought the total number of infected to about 130 on board.
The ship is expected to stay in quarantine until February 19, the WHO said in a tweet.
"The period will be extended beyond the 19 Feb. as appropriate only for close contacts of newly confirmed cases. They need to remain in quarantine for 14 days from last contact with a confirmed case," it added.
Coronavirus imminent threat to health: UK
The United Kingdom declared on Monday that the virus outbreak "constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health."
Britain says it has so far recorded four cases of the illness, all of whom are being quarantined for 14 days.
SOURCE: PRESS TV