Death toll rises to 80 as China extends holiday

The number of people killed in China by the coronavirus has risen to 80, with almost 3,000 confirmed ill.

The national new year holiday has been extended by three days to Sunday, in an attempt to contain the spread.

On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and centre of the outbreak.

The number of deaths in Hubei province has climbed from 56 to 76, with four deaths elsewhere.

Wuhan is in lockdown and several other cities have imposed travel bans.

The overall number of confirmed cases in China is 2,744. State media say more than 300 are critically ill.

“Extending the main holiday of the year is a highly unusual move,” said the BBC’s China correspondent Robin Brant.

“But the prospect of half a billion people getting on trains, planes and buses and criss-crossing the country again is the last thing the government wants.”

At least 42 cases have been confirmed abroad, including in Thailand, the United States, and Australia.

There have been no deaths outside China.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Most deaths involve elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems. (Courtesy BBC)

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