The death toll from a new coronavirus epidemic in China surged past 1,500 on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days to try to contain the virus’s spread.
State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China’s foreign minister, acknowledged that the virus, now known as COVID-19, was a significant challenge but defended Beijing’s management of the epidemic and lashed out at the “overreaction” of some countries. “Through our efforts the epidemic is overall under control,” he told the Reuters News Agency on Friday.
More than two dozen countries have confirmed cases and several nations have suspended trade and travel links with China in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Four deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – in Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan and the most recent in France.
Egypt reported its first case of the coronavirus on Friday, becoming the first country in the African continent to confirm a case, and the second in the Middle East region, after the United Arab Emirates diagnosed its first cases late last month.