China confirms second virus death outside of epicentre

China on Friday confirmed a second death outside the epicentre of a SARS-like virus outbreak that has infected hundreds of people, raising the overall toll to 26 dead.

Officials say 24 deaths have occurred in Hubei, the central province that is home to Wuhan, the city identified as the centre of the outbreak.

The death was in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia and is some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from Wuhan, the local government said.

It follows confirmation Thursday of the first death outside the epicentre — an 80-year-old man diagnosed with the new virus in northern Hebei province, who died on January 22.

Hebei province borders Beijing, where a number of public Lunar New Year events have been cancelled and the Forbidden City — one of China’s most famous cultural landmarks — has been closed until further notice in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading.

Millions of people have been sealed off in Hubei as public transport has been shut down in eight cities across the province, with Wuhan under lockdown in an unprecedented quarantine effort.

The National Health Commission said Friday the number of confirmed cases had leapt to 830.

– AFP

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