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Hong Kong reports first coronavirus death, 2nd outside China

Hong Kong: Hong Kong reported its first death Tuesday from the newly identified coronavirus, the second outside mainland China.

Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, said it had asked all casino operators to suspend operations for two weeks to help curb the spread of the virus.

The Hong Kong death took to 427 the toll from the virus, including a man who died in the Philippines last week after visiting Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

New cases were reported in the United States, including a patient in California infected through close contact with someone in the same household who had been infected in China.

It was the second instance of person-to-person spread in the United States after a case reported last week in Illinois.

Meanwhile in another development Australia sent hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, while Japan ordered the quarantine of a cruise ship with more than 3,000 aboard after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for the virus.

In Hong Kong, hospital staff said the 39-year-old male victim had a pre-existing chronic illness and had visited Wuhan in January before falling ill.

Thousands of medical workers in the former British colony held a second day of strikes to press for the complete closure of its borders with mainland China, a day after embattled leader Carrie Lam left open three remaining checkpoints.

‘We’re not threatening the government, we just want to prevent the outbreak,’ said Cheng, a 26-year-old nurse among the strikers.

The Asian financial centre has confirmed 17 cases of the virus and its public hospital network is struggling to cope with a deluge of patients and measures to contain the epidemic.

Hong Kong was badly hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that emerged from China in 2002 to kill almost 800 people worldwide. WHO figures show SARS killed 299 people in Hong Kong then.

Chinese data suggest that the new virus, while much more contagious than SARS, is significantly less lethal, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

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