Thirty-eight more deaths were reported in China on Wednesday due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, taking the toll to 170. The government also confirmed 1,737 new infections, PTI reported. Nearly all the latest deaths, as has been the case so far, were reported from the Hubei province.

In its daily report, the National Health Commission of China said that by the end of Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus had risen to 7,711, while 12,167 people were suspected of being infected. As many as 1,370 patients were in a critical condition, while 124 people had been discharged from hospitals after recovery by Wednesday.

The rise in the number of cases was 29% on Wednesday alone.

Tibet reported its first case on Wednesday. Hong Kong had 10 confirmed cases by Wednesday, Macau had seven and Taiwan had eight. Apart from the cases reported by China, 68 infections were identified in 15 other countries too, according to the World Health Organization.

In India, budget airline IndiGo and national carrier Air India on Wednesday announced suspension of flights to China. IndiGo will suspend flights on the Bengaluru–Hong Kong route from February 1, and on the Delhi–Chengdu route between February 1 and 20. However, the airline will continue to operate the Kolkata–Guangzhou flight, which is being “monitored on a daily basis”. Air India will suspend Delhi–Shanghai flights from January 31 to February 14.

Other foreign airlines have also cancelled flights to China as demand fell sharply and because of deepening fears over the spread of the virus. British Airways, Finnair, United, Air Canada and Lion Air have suspended flights to China. Countries have also warned their citizens that they should reconsider plans to visit China.

The United States and Japan airlifted hundreds of their citizens from the city of Wuhan on Wednesday. Numerous countries plan to do so, but are reportedly facing huge logistical, medical and bureaucratic hurdles. China has promised to make all appropriate arrangements and provide necessary assistance if any country “insists” on evacuating its citizens.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing has circulated registration forms and consent notes to Indians in Wuhan and Hubei province, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The embassy has informed the evacuees that they need to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a designated city upon their arrival in India. The name of the city has not been disclosed yet.

Over 23,000 Indian students study in China.

The newly identified virus is believed to have originated late last year in a Wuhan market illegally selling wildlife. The symptoms include fever, cough, shortness in breath and other breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the virus could also cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.

China’s National Health Commission said that apart from spreading through air, the virus is also passed through physical contact with infected persons. The virus’ incubation period is on average three to seven days, with the longest being 14 days.

The new coronavirus has spread to several countries, with United Arab Emirates being the latest to report a case of infection on Wednesday. It is the first case of the new coronavirus in the Middle East.

The World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled in the Chinese city of Nanjing in March, have been postponed until 2021 as a consequence of the coronavirus epidemic, AFP reported. The Chinese Football Association said it will postpone domestic games in 2020.

Restrictions in China

Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in under complete lockdown. China has extended the New Year Festival holidays till February 2 to stop migrant workers from returning to duty and thus containing the spread of the virus. Universities, colleges and schools across the country will postpone the spring semester until further notice. The government is also trying to prevent mass gatherings and travel, and has launched temperature detection at 55 subway stations and at Beijing airport.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called the coronavirus a “demon” that needed to be brought under control. The World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Tuesday assured Beijing of all the help it requires to contain the outbreak, and asked the international community to remain calm and not overreact. Ghebreyesus met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.