Six people have died from coronavirus in China’s central Wuhan city, where the outbreak first spread, the city’s mayor has confirmed. Zhou Xianwang told state television a total of 258 cases had been confirmed in the city by the end of Monday. Separately, China’s eastern Zhejiang provincial health authority said a total of five cases of new coronavirus were confirmed as of noon today. Anxieties around the spread of the deadly virus are increasing as the country prepares to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Millions of people are expected to travel by plane, train and bus ahead of the festival on Saturday, as authorities step-up precautions to control the outbreak. Medical staff wear suits to transfer patients from a hospital in Wuhan, where six people have now died (Picture: EPA) Plane passengers have been screened for coronavirus symptoms on flights out of Wuhan (Picture: Twitter) Authorities in China, Japan, Thailand, Korea and Australia have increased screenings of travellers to stop the virus from spreading (Picture: PA) The total number of people infected by the virus jumped to 291 today with fears that number will rise further during the New Year travel rush. Chinese government expert Zhong Nanshan revealed on state television that the virus can be spread between humans, despite authorities previously saying there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. The virus can cause pneumonia, with symptoms including fever and difficulty in breathing. As those symptoms are similar to many other respiratory diseases, extra screening is needed. So far, people have been diagnosed with the virus in Beijing, Shanghai and southern Guangdong province. The illness has also crossed borders, with four cases of coronavirus confirmed in South Korea, Japan and Thailand. Authorities in China, Japan, Thailand, Korea and Australia have increased screenings of travellers to stop the virus from spreading. Pictures show passengers being tested for symptoms at airports and on flights out of Wuhan. Health officials hand out information about the current coronavirus at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia (Picture: AP) People flying in from Wuhan go through body temperature scanners at Narita airport in Narita, Japan (Picture: AP) Doctors treating patients in Wuhan have been seen wearing hazmat suits (Picture: EPA) Doctors treating patients in Wuhan have been seen wearing hazmat suits to transport people in and out of the hospital. Authorities said 15 medical staff have been infected in the city, where a seafood market has been identified as the centre of the virus outbreak. Hong Kong is said to be on ‘extreme high alert’ in the city still haunted by the 2002 outbreak of Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrom (SARS) which killed nearly 650 people. The city’s number two leader, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, told reporters: ‘We are preparing for the worst. We have not lowered our guard.’ Hong Kong airport already routinely screens the temperatures of all passengers arriving at the airport, one of the world’s busiest. Those arriving from Wuhan have to fill out health declarations and face fines and up to six months jail if they fail to declare symptoms.