The death toll in China from the new corona virus reached 213 on Friday. Overall, the number of cases worldwide increased rapidly when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency.
The death toll in Hubei, the province in the center of the epidemic in China, rose to 204, and according to Chinese health authorities, there were 9,692 cases of infection nationwide from Thursday. Around 100 cases have been reported in at least 18 other countries, with no deaths outside of China.
Although the cases had expanded to 18 countries, according to the WHO, Italy announced its first confirmed cases to two Chinese tourists.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government has decided to stop all air traffic between Italy and China, a more drastic measure than most countries.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, said the organization "does not recommend – and actually opposes" restrictions on travel or trade with China.
Nonetheless, foreign governments have flown and quarantined their citizens from Hubei while airlines such as Air France, American Airlines and British Airways have stopped flying to mainland China.
Airlines are under increasing pressure from cabin crew to stop all flights because they are unsure whether they are exposed to the virus.
Stocks around the world have fallen on concerns that the world's second largest economy may break out and lead to an economic crisis.
LOCK IN WUHAN
Around 60 million people in Hubei Province live in virtual captivity.
By the end of January, a further 1,220 cases had been uncovered in Hubei, which corresponds to a total of almost 6,000 in the province, said the Hubei Health Commission.
Tedros praised China's response at a press conference in Geneva on Thursday evening, but said WHO declared a global health emergency because it was concerned that the virus could spread to countries that lack the resources to deal with it.
"The main reason for this explanation is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries. Our main concern is that the virus can spread to countries with weaker health systems," he said.
The WHO move will trigger stricter containment and information sharing guidelines for all countries, but could disappoint Beijing, which has expressed confidence that it can defeat the "devil" virus.
China's US Ambassador Zhang Jun said Beijing is evaluating the statement.
"We are still at a very critical stage in the fight against the corona virus. International solidarity is extremely important, and for this purpose all countries should … act responsibly," said Zhang.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and comes from a syndicated feed.)