February 1, 2020 / 11:33 PM / in 23 days

China's Hubei province reports rise in coronavirus deaths to 294

BEIJING (Reuters) - The number of deaths in China’s central Hubei province from the new coronavirus outbreak had risen by 45 to 294 as of the end of Feb. 1, Chinese state television reported on Sunday.

A worker in protective suit serves customers at a pharmacy following an outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 1, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS

There had been a further 1,921 cases detected in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, taking the total in the province to 9,074.

Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is thought to have originated, reported 32 new deaths. A total of 224 people in Wuhan have now died from the virus, for which there is no vaccine.

New confirmed cases also surged by 276 in nearby Huanggang on Feb. 1. One death was reported in the city, about 60 km (37 miles) east of Wuhan.

Hubei has been under virtual quarantine for the last week, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere, China has placed growing restrictions on travel and business.

The province extended its Lunar New Year holiday break to Feb. 13 in a bid to contain the outbreak.

But the province is not totally sealed. People are leaving Hubei on foot over a bridge spanning the Yangtze river, entering Jiujiang city in neighboring Jiangxi province.

Lu Yuejin, a 50-year-old farmer from a village on the Hubei side of the bridge, was trying to gain passage for her leukaemia-stricken daughter on Saturday.

“Please, take my daughter. I don’t need to go past... please, just let my daughter go past,” Lu pleaded with the police.

Her cries for help were almost drowned out by a loudspeaker playing a pre-recorded message that residents would not be allowed past to Jiujiang.

Eventually, Lu and her daughter were both allowed through and an ambulance was called to pick them up.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; additional reporting by Martin Pollard in Jiujiang; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Rosalba O'Brien

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