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China scrambles to find beds for coronavirus patients

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING China scrambled to find bed space for thousands of newly infected patients yesterday, as the toll from a deadly new virus that originated in Wuhan jumped again.

More than 28,000 people are known to be infected nationwide in an outbreak that has killed more than 560 and spiralled into a global health emergency.

Two dozen countries now have confirmed cases of the virus that emerged from a market selling exotic animals at the end of last year.

Yesterday, 10 more people were found to have contracted the disease on a cruise ship off the Japanese coast.

The locked-down city of Wuhan was due to open a second field hospital, offering 1,600 beds. The first hospital, with 1,000 beds, opened earlier this week, and the authorities said they were converting public buildings into jury-rigged medical facilities.

The city of 11 million is facing a "severe" lack of beds, said Mr Hu Lishan, a senior official in Wuhan, noting there were 8,182 patients admitted to 28 hospitals that have a total of 8,254 beds.

There is also a shortage of equipment and materials, he told reporters.

The central government has announced measures intended to ensure the supply of vital medical resources, with tax breaks for manufacturers of equipment needed to fight the epidemic.

"We must make all-out efforts across the country to meet the need for essential medical supplies and medical professionals in Hubei province," Premier Li Keqiang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

RESTRICTIONS

Tens of millions of people in Hubei and surrounding provinces are now facing severe restrictions on their movement as the authorities try to slow the spread of the virus.

They include residents of Hangzhou, a city just 175km from Shanghai, where fences block streets and loudspeakers tell people: "Don't go out."

In some cities, inhabitants are being offered cash rewards to inform on people who come from Hubei.

In Beijing - where streets remain eerily quiet and businesses are shuttered - restaurants have been barred from accepting reservations for parties. - AFP

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