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Manila, February 2: The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death from a new virus outside of China, where authorities delayed the opening of schools in the worst-hit province and tightened quarantine measures in a city that allow only one family member to venture out to buy supplies.
The Philippine Department of Health said a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan was admitted on Jan. 25 after experiencing a fever, cough, and sore throat. He developed severe pneumonia, and in his last few days, “the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement, however, the condition of the patient deteriorated within his last 24 hours resulting in his demise.”
The man’s 38-year-old female companion, also from Wuhan, also tested positive for the virus and remains in hospital isolation in Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved a temporary ban on all travelers, except Filipinos, from China and its autonomous regions. The U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and an assessment from the World Health Organization that they were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.
The death toll in China climbed by 45 to 304 and the number of cases by 2,590 to 14,380, according to the National Health Commission, well above the number of those infected in in the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which broke out in southern China and spread worldwide.
Meanwhile, six officials in the city of Huanggang, neighboring the epicenter of Wuhan in Hubei province, have been fired over “poor performance” in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
It cited the mayor as saying the city’s “capabilities to treat the patients remained inadequate and there is a severe shortage in medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks.”
After Huanggang, the trading center of Wenzhou in coastal Zhejiang province also confined people to homes, allowing only one family member to venture out every other day to buy necessary supplies.
With the outbreak showing little sign of abating, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have extended the Lunar New Year holiday, due to end this week, well into February. The annual travel crunch of millions of people returning from their hometowns to the cities is thought to pose a major threat of secondary infection at a time when authorities are encouraging people to avoid public gatherings. AP)