China confirms 2nd virus death outside of epicenter

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 24 2020 01:12 PM

A medical staff attends a patient with pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Jan. 22, 2020. cnsphoto/Reuters

BEIJING -- China on Friday confirmed a second death outside the epicenter 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 center of the outbreak.

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

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

Hebei province borders Beijing, where a number of public Lunar New Year events have been canceled 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.