China reports 361 dead from new virus, total of 17,205 cases

BEIJING (AP/CNN) - China on Monday reported 361 have died on the mainland from the new virus, with an additional 2,829 new cases over the last 24 hours bringing the Chinese total to 17,205.

Travelers wear face masks as they sit in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Source: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The latest figures Monday come a day after the first death from the illness was recorded outside China, in the Philippines, as countries around the world evacuated hundreds of their citizens from the infection zone.

Chinese authorities completed a new, rapidly constructed 1,000-bed hospital for victims of the outbreak and delayed the reopening of schools in the hardest-hit province.

The Philippine Health Department said a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, the city at the center of the crisis, was hospitalized Jan. 25 and died after developing severe pneumonia.

Scientists have found that the virus can spread person to person, even if someone is showing no symptoms.

The next in line can continue to pass it on. The incubation period is up to two weeks, so people may not know where or when they picked it up.

The risk to the public outside of China, where most cases are, is still considered low.

Amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, including eight confirmed cases in the United States, the U.S. is setting new travel and security restrictions.

The Transportation Security Administration sent out new guidelines that will reportedly go into effect Sunday. Airlines will be required to ask all passengers booked on flights from outside the U.S. if they’ve been to mainland China in the last 14 days.

U.S. citizens who have been to China in the last two weeks will have to be rebooked to seven gateway airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma, San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, John F. Kennedy in New York and Daniel K. Inouye in Honolulu.

Chinese nationals coming from China and connecting through foreign airports will not be allowed to travel.

The Pentagon will provide military housing to accommodate up to 1,000 travelers arriving from overseas who might need to be quarantined due to the virus. Evacuees would be monitored for 14 days, with those found to be sick moved to hospitals.

Federal health officials are responsible for the care, transportation and security of arrivals.

The U.S. declared a public health emergency Friday due to the virus, and officials earlier advised against all travel to China. Delta, United and American Airlines have suspended all U.S. to China flights.

The Philippines joined the U.S. and others in banning entry to travelers from China. However, experts say travel restrictions and business closures aimed at stopping the outbreak could end up hurting rather than helping the situation.

That’s because the economies of countries and businesses around the world are so interconnected that travel restrictions impact trade, with devastating ripple effects, according to Dr. Eric Toner, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Toner led a summit in October with World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss the negative impacts of trade and travel restrictions during a pandemic.

Many countries are also seeing rising anti-Chinese sentiment and even public aversion to those from the epicenter of the outbreak.

Some restaurants in Asian cities have refused to accept Chinese customers, while Indonesians marched near a hotel and called on Chinese guests there to leave. French and Australian newspapers face criticism over alleged racist headlines.

Chinese and other Asians in Europe and New Zealand complain of racial discrimination.

Meanwhile, in China, authorities delayed the opening of schools in the worst-hit province, Hubei, and tightened quarantine measures in the city of Huanggang that allow only one family member to venture out to buy supplies.

The country’s news agency says six officials in Huanggang, neighboring the epicenter of Wuhan in Hubei province, have been fired over poor performance in handling the outbreak.

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