Authorities locked down more cities in China to contain the outbreak that’s hit four continents and military doctors were ordered to help out.
More deaths were reported in regions outside of the epicenter of the virus and the number of confirmed infections surged to 1,975, with 324 people considered to be in severe condition.
Teams from Beijing are being sent to hard-hit areas to push local governments to "comprehensively strengthen front-line prevention and containment,” according to a statement issued Saturday after Xi led a meeting of the Communist Party’s top leaders.
Reports have emerged of hospitals at the centre of the outbreak struggling to cope with growing numbers of sick people.
Criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis on Chinese social media has centred on the initial response by authorities in Wuhan, epicenter of the virus.
Xi has warned officials who withhold information will be punished. He said a group will be set up to oversee the response to the epidemic, and it will report directly to China’s seven most powerful leaders.
Canada is the 16th country or territory to confirm it has someone infected -- a man who returned to Toronto Jan 22 after visiting Wuhan. Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said Toronto health authorities are in touch with federal officials to help determine who came in contact with the man, in his 50s, on his flights from Wuhan.
US President Donald Trump, who is negotiating a trade agreement with China, on Friday praised China's efforts to control the outbreak and thanked Xi.
Authorities in Hubei Province, which includes Wuhan, issued an urgent appeal for protective clothing, face masks for civilians and surgical masks for doctors, goggles and disinfectant to help contain the epidemic, the People’s Daily reported.
The China Development Bank approved an emergency loan of 2 billion yuan (US$262mil) for Wuhan to provide medical aid, emergency gear and expenses for epidemic prevention and control, according to a statement.
The People’s Liberation Army sent 450 medical personnel, including those who’ve had experience in fighting viral pandemics, to Wuhan to help out at local hospitals, according to the Xinhua News Agency. - Bloomberg
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