The country’s National Health Commission said 56 of the new deaths were in Hubei province, and one in the municipality of Chongqing.
The Chinese stock and commodity markets fell heavily as the markets reopened for the first trading session after an extended Lunar New Year break. The Shanghai Composite index plummeted more than 8% as investors dropped risky assets in response to rising fears about the spread of the virus across China. If the losses are sustained, it would be the biggest daily drop since 2015.
The Chinese currency Yuan also opened at its weakest level this year in onshore trade. Oil, iron ore, copper and soft commodities in Shanghai all posted sharp drops.
The number of deaths in China has now exceeded the total Chinese toll from the 2002-’03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. It was another coronavirus that emerged from China and killed almost 800 people around the world.
Another Chinese city under lockdown
Authorities also imposed a lockdown on a major city far from the epicentre of a coronavirus epidemic. They closed roads and confined people to their homes in the eastern city of Wenzhou on Sunday. Cities like Wuhan already remain in virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted.
Only one resident per household is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities, and 46 highway toll stations have been closed, authorities said.
The World Health Organization had last week declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern but stopped short of recommending trade and travel restrictions.
China opens new hospital for patients
A hospital built in just eight days to treat people with the virus in Wuhan on Monday began to take patients, BBC reported.
The hospital called Huoshenshan, or “fire-god mountain”, has 1,000 beds. More than 7,500 workers took part in the project, launched on January 25 and finished this weekend. A second hospital in Wuhan with 1,600 beds, called Leishenshan, or “thunder-god mountain”, is scheduled to be completed on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of hospital workers in Hong Kong have gone on strike to demand that the border with China be closed completely.
The virus is said to have emerged late last year in a Wuhan market illegally trading wildlife. It can cause pneumonia and spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes.
Cocktail of flu, HIV drugs to help fight virus
Meanwhile, doctors in Thailand said they have succeeded in treating severe cases of the coronavirus with a combination of medications for flu and HIV, Reuters reported. They claimed initial results led to vast improvement 48 hours after applying the treatment.
The treatment included a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.
“This is not the cure, but the patient’s condition has vastly improved,” doctor Kriangska Atipornwanich, a lung specialist at Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok told reporters. “From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine the test result became negative within 48 hours.”
Thailand has reported 19 cases of coronavirus. Of these, eight have recovered and gone home while 11 are still under treatment in hospitals.