Deadliest Day For China; WHO Declares Global Health Emergency

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China reported its biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as global fears deepened with more infections confirmed overseas including three Japanese evacuated from the outbreak’s epicenter.

The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed the severity of a disease that has now killed 170 in China, planned a meeting Thursday on whether to declare the epidemic a global emergency.

Regardless of any WHO declaration, governments, companies and people around the world continued to ramp up efforts to try and contain the mysterious illness that is believed to have emerged from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Many governments have urged their citizens not to visit China, while some have banned entry for travelers from Wuhan.

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At least 15 countries have reported infections. Airlines began cancelling flights to and from China on Wednesday, and more did so on Thursday.

China’s government has also taken extraordinary steps to arrest the virus’s spread, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

The government on Thursday reported 38 new deaths in the preceding 24 hours, the highest one-day total since the virus was detected late last year. All but one of the new deaths were in Hubei.

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The number of confirmed new cases also grew steadily to 7,711, the National Health Commission said. Another 81,000 people were under observation for possible infection.

“We are in a truly new situation,” Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament as his government face criticism for its quarantine strategy.

Asian stock markets tumbled again Thursday with fears that business disruptions in the “world’s factory” would upset global supply chains and dent profits.

Toyota, IKEA, Starbucks, Tesla, McDonald’s and tech giant Foxconn were among corporate giants to temporarily freeze production or close large numbers of outlets in China.

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