China's Hubei announces further measures to contain coronavirus outbreak

16 shows a man who has recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus infection donating plasma in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province aimed at curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions. — AFP

Outside of hardest-strike Hubei, the quantity of new instances has been declining and a spokesman for China's national overall health authority said Sunday that the slowing figures were being a signal the outbreak was staying controlled.

A total of 68,500 people have now been infected, the national health commission said, with most deaths occurring in Hubei.

Last Monday, Xi made his first public appearance after the death of a doctor who became a hero for speaking out about the coronavirus sparked outrage on social media, visiting a district in Beijing wearing a mask and having his temperature taken. Canada, Hong Kong and Italy said they were planning similar flights.

So far, nearly 9,500 patients with the coronavirus have been treated and discharged from hospitals across China, the country's health authorities said.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the country was "entering into a phase that is different from before", requiring new steps to stop the spread of the virus.

Under the new measures, people returning to Beijing will have to isolate themselves at home for 14 days, according to a notice published Friday.

Meanwhile, the number of infected continues to rise on the Princess Diamond cruise ship.

Seventy new coronavirus cases were confirmed on board, bringing the total on the ship to 355, by far the largest cluster of cases outside China.

The man was the fourth death to be reported outside mainland China. People with symptoms were to be banned from the flights. The evacuees will be taken to Travis Air Force Base in California, with some continuing to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where they will have to undergo another quarantine.

The decision to publish the speech appeared to be an attempt to answer criticism that Xi had pulled back from public view as the outbreak worsened, though the revelation that he was in charge from the beginning could also place the blame for any fallout more squarely on his shoulders. "This date is 14 days after the remaining passengers are expected to depart the ship on February 19".

He also cautioned against panic over COVID-19, saying rumours and misinformation hamper response and increase the potential havoc the virus could cause in countries with weaker health systems. A second test requested by the cruise operator confirmed the finding. "We thank them, and everyone else involved, for their cooperation throughout the process", he said in a statement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was in daily contact with the New Zealand passengers through the embassy in Tokyo.

At least 285 people onboard the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus as of Sunday morning, and the boat's owners, Princess Cruises, said it will cancel all trips until April 20 because of the quarantine period.

Swartz said that crew were not quarantined from the start because "the Japanese government view the guests as more susceptible to the virus due to age, health profiles, among other factors". Kyodo News Agency said the flights carrying USA passengers left Haneda Airport at around 1700 ET (2200 GMT). "It is disappointing for all of us".

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