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Philippines coronavirus death becomes first outside China

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The outbreak has been declared an international public health emergency.

A man in the Philippines has become the first person outside China to die from the outbreak, while the overall death toll has risen above 300 and the number of confirmed cases of infection increased to more than 14,000.

The 44-year-old man from Wuhan, the province where the outbreak is believed to have originated, was admitted to a Manila hospital on January 25 with a fever, cough and a sore throat, the Philippine Department of Health said in a statement.

He developed severe pneumonia but “showed signs of improvement” in the days before his death, and the 38-year-old woman he was with has tested positive for the virus and remains in hospital isolation.

The death follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling on governments to prepare for “domestic outbreak control” if the virus spreads in their countries.

Beijing has criticised Washington’s order barring entry to the US to most foreigners who visited China in the past two weeks.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced similar measures on Saturday, following Japan and Singapore.

Meanwhile, South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan, the city at the centre of an area where some 50 million people are prevented from leaving in a sweeping anti-virus effort. The evacuees went into a two-week quarantine. Indonesia also sent a plane.

The number of confirmed cases in China has surpassed the number in the 2002-03 outbreak of Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

The virus’s rapid spread in two months prompted the WHO to declare it a global emergency on Thursday.

That declaration “flipped the switch” from a cautious attitude earlier to recommending governments prepare for the possibility the virus might spread, said WHO’s representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea.

Most cases reported so far have been people who visited China or their family members.

The agency acted out of concern for poorer countries that might not be equipped to respond, said Mr Galea. Such a declaration calls for a co-ordinated international response and can bring more money and resources.

The WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases abroad involved human-to-human transmission.
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