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What’s new in the China virus outbreak

January 30, 2020 GMT
Funeral workers disinfect themselves after handling a virus victim in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China's worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)
Funeral workers disinfect themselves after handling a virus victim in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China's worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)

More than 7,800 cases of a viral outbreak have been confirmed worldwide, most of them in central China. The virus has caused 170 deaths, mostly in Hubei province. Experts are especially concerned that new cases outside China may be spreading person-to-person. The virus comes from the coronavirus family, which includes the common cold but also more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS.

WHAT’S NEW:

— China’s latest figures show an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 new cases for a total of 7,711 cases. The 170 deaths have mostly been in Hubei province.

— The World Health Organization convened its coronavirus expert committee to assess whether the outbreak warrants being declared a global emergency. The committee last week had advised the U.N. health agency it was too early to make that pronouncement.

— The United States evacuated 195 Americans from Wuhan who are being tested and monitored at a Southern California military base. The European Union, South Korea and Singapore had flights en route, and other countries are working on similar plans.

— Chinese officials say they’re ensuring supplies of daily necessities to Wuhan and other areas that have been cordoned off.

— Australia’s government defended its plan to send evacuees to Christmas Island, which has been used to banish asylum seekers and convicted criminals. Critics warn that some Australians would prefer to stay in China rather than go there.