China has reported 44 more deaths from the novel coronavirus epidemic on Friday and 327 fresh cases, the lowest daily figure for new infections in more than a month. The death toll now stands at 2,788 in mainland China, according to the National Health Commission.
The number of fatalities – which is up from the 29 reported on Thursday – were all in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, except for two deaths in Beijing.
In total, 78,824 people have now been infected with the COVID-19 strain in the mainland.
Friday’s figure was the lowest rise in new cases since January 24, when 259 new infections were reported. The general decline in new infections in China comes as infections in other countries gather pace, with the World Health Organization warning that the coronavirus epidemic was at a “decisive point”.
Even China is now worried about importing cases and has ordered people arriving in Beijing from affected countries to go into a 14-day self-quarantine.
South Korea cases raise to 2,022
South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Of the new cases, 182 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, the location of a church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, the KCDC said in a statement. The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.
Nigeria confirms coronavirus case
Nigeria on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa.
The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan earlier this week, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a statement on Twitter.
“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” Ehanire said.
Italy has become a hotbed of infection in recent days, with the largest outbreak in Europe.
But the low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak, has puzzled health specialists.
Prior to the case in Nigeria, there had been just two cases across the continent – in Egypt and Algeria.
New Zealand limits entry of travellers from Iran
New Zealand said on Friday that it was placing temporary restrictions on incoming travellers from Iran as a precautionary measure to protect against the coronavirus outbreak.
“This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate,” Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.
New Zealand also decided not to allow any exemptions for overseas students from China to enter the country.
Clark added there would be an increased presence of health staff that would meet direct international flights landing at New Zealand airports from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
Tokyo Disney parks closed
The operator of Tokyo’s two Disney resorts, Disneyland and DisneySea, said on Friday the parks would be closed for around two weeks on fears over the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
“Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea have decided to proceed with an extraordinary closure from Saturday, February 29, 2020, through Sunday, March 15” after the government urged measures to limit the spread of the virus, the operator said in a statement.
The operator Oriental Land said it currently hoped to resume operations from March 16.