SHANGHAI, January 29 ------ The United States warned against travel to China on Monday and Canada issued a more narrow travel warning as the death toll from the spreading coronavirus passed 100, with tens of millions stranded during the biggest holiday of the year and global markets rattled. Global stocks fell, oil prices hit three-month lows, and China’s yuan dipped to its weakest level in 2020 as investors fretted about damage to the world’s second-biggest economy from travel bans and the Lunar New Year holiday, which China extended in a bid to keep people at home.
The health commission of China’s Hubei province said on Tuesday that 100 people had died from the virus as of Jan. 27, according to an online statement, up from the previous toll of 76, with the number of confirmed cases in the province rose to 2,714. Other fatalities have been reported elsewhere in China, including the first in Beijing, bringing the deal toll to 106 so far, according to the People’s Daily. The state newspaper put the total number of confirmed cases in China at 4,193, though some experts suspect a much higher number. On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump offered China whatever help it needed, while the State Department said Americans should “reconsider” visiting all of China due to the virus.
Canada, which has two confirmed cases of the virus and is investigating 19 more potential cases, warned its citizens to avoid travel to China’s Hubei province, at the heart of the outbreak. Authorities in Hubei province are taking increasing flak from the public over their initial response to the virus. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak, to encourage medical workers and promise reinforcements. Visiting Wuhan in blue protective suit and mask, Li praised medics, said 2,500 more workers would join them in the next two days, and visited the site of a new hospital to be built in days.
The most senior leader to visit Wuhan since the outbreak, Li was shown on state TV leading medical workers in chants of “Wuhan jiayou!” - an exhortation to keep their strength up. China’s ambassador to the United Nations, following a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, said “the Chinese government attaches paramount importance to prevention and control of the epidemic, and President Xi Jinping has given important instructions. “China has been working with the international community in the spirit of openness, transparency and scientific coordination,” he said. Guterres said in a statement, “The UN appreciates China’s effort, has full confidence in China’s ability of controlling the outbreak, and stands ready to provide any support and assistance.”