Beijing, Jan 29 (IANS) Chinese health authorities on Wednesday said the death toll due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in the country has increased to 132, with 5,974 confirmed cases in 31 provincial-level regions.

The National Health Commission said that 1,239 patients remained in critical conditions, and 9,239 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 103 people were discharged from hospital after recovery.

Tuesday saw 1,459 new confirmed cases, 3,248 new suspected cases, including one in Tibet Autonomous Region, and 26 deaths — 25 in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak) and one in Henan.

A total of 65,537 close contacts have been traced, the Commission said, adding that among them, 1,604 were discharged on Tuesday, with 59,990 others still under medical observation.

Most of the new cases and deaths have been registered in the province of Hubei, where the outbreak originated, while Tibet remains the only province that has not registered any cases, although it did report a first suspected case on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the first Japanese government charter flight with 206 of its nationals arrived Wednesday in Tokyo from Wuhan, as part of an operation to evacuate around 650 citizens, reports Efe news.

Some passengers were reportedly exhibiting symptoms, and all were sent to health centres for testing, national broadcaster NHK said.

It added that three more cases were confirmed in Japan, bringing the total to seven, including a bus driver who had never been to Wuhan.

A US plane carrying diplomatic personnel and other citizens departed Wuhan on Tuesday, a State Department spokesman told Efe news.

In Australia, scientists announced on Wednesday that they have managed to reproduce the virus in cell culture for the first time outside of China, which they said is a “significant breakthrough”.

Researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute (PDI) in Melbourne, grew the virus from a patient sample, they said in a statement, adding it will assist in the assessment of effectiveness of trial vaccines as well as allowing accurate investigation and diagnosis of the virus globally.

Meanwhile, eight confirmed cases were reported in Hong Kong, seven in Macao Special Administrative Region and eight in Taiwan.

Other countries with confirmed cases include Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, the US, Australia, France and Germany.




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