China’s daily death toll from virus tops 100 for first time

BEIJING (AP) - China’s daily death toll from new virus has topped 100 for first time, with more than 1,000 total deaths recorded.

The updated figures come as the spread of the contagion shows little sign of abating while exacting an ever-rising cost.

Though more offices and stores in China have reopened after the extended Lunar New Year break, many people appear to be staying home.

Public health authorities are watching closely to see whether workers’ returning to cities and business resuming worsens the spread of the virus.

Newly confirmed cases fell slightly to 2,478, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland, some of whom have since been cured and released from hospital.

Monday’s rise was a turnaround from a significant reduction in new cases reported Sunday that briefly prompted optimism prevention methods such as strict quarantines may be working.

Organizers of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, due to start this week, are canceling all of its more than 120 performances.

An infection specialist who worked on the earlier outbreak of SARS says “dramatic reductions” in the pace of the disease’s spread should begin this month if containment works.

Also on Monday, Britain declared the virus a "serious and imminent threat to public health'' and announced new measures to combat the spread of the disease.

The U.K. Department of Health and Social Care said people with the virus can now be forcibly quarantined. It named two British hospitals as isolation facilities for those affected and designated the Chinese city of Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province as an “infected area.”

The change comes after a British man who caught the virus at a business conference in Asia appears to be linked to at least seven other confirmed cases in Europe, illustrating how the ease of international travel is complicating global efforts to track and contain the new coronavirus that emerged in China.

From the Singapore hotel where he is believed to have picked up the virus during a conference, to a ski resort in the French Alps and a pub in his hometown in England, as the well the flights he took back to Britain, the man may have come in contact with dozens of other people.

Health ministers from the European Union’s 27 nations will hold an emergency meeting Thursday on the virus.

Meanwhile, Japan is reporting dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. The operator of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined near Tokyo, says health officials found 65 new cases on board in addition to 70 found earlier.

More than 3,600 people are still in a 14-day quarantine on board the ship.

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