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China sees 2,641 new coronavirus cases, 143 deaths

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SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – More than 2,600 new cases were confirmed from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, health officials said on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The total of confirmed infections across mainland China was now 66,492 after 2,641 new cases were confirmed, as of Friday, the National Health Commission said.

The death toll rose by 143 to 1,523, it said, with most of the new deaths in central Hubei province and in particular the provincial capital of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the outbreak began in December.

National Health Commission official Liang Wannian told a news conference the government would continue to try to contain the spread of virus in Wuhan, which has been under virtual lockdown for three weeks.The commission was focused on lowering the fatality rate and reducing the infection rate, Liang said.

The number of deaths in Hubei has increased to 139 in Friday, of which 107 in Wuhan. A total of 1,123 people in Wuhan died of the coronavirus.

China is struggling to get the world’s second-largest economy going after the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended by 10 days to help contain the virus.China would maintain a prudent monetary policy and help companies resume production as soon as possible, the vice governor of the central bank told a news conference.

The official Beijing Daily newspaper said people failing to obey government orders to quarantine themselves on return from the holidays would be punished. But it was not immediately clear how that would be enforced, or whether the restrictions would apply to non-residents or foreigners arriving from abroad.

“From now on, all those who have returned to Beijing should stay at home or submit to group observation for 14 days after arriving,” Beijing’s virus prevention working group said in a notice cited by the Beijing Daily.

“Those who refuse to accept home or centralised observation and other prevention and control measures will be held accountable under the law,” it said.

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