Coronavirus updates: death toll in China rises to 259

The number of deaths from a coronavirus epidemic in China has surged by 46 to 259, the country’s health authority announced on Saturday. The United States and other nations declared new border curbs on foreigners who have been in China.

The central province of Hubei, the centre of the epidemic, is under a virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere in China, authorities decided to place restrictions on travel and business activity in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

In its latest figures, China’s National Health Commission announced on Friday that there were 2,102 new confirmed infections in China, bringing the cumulative total to 11,791. Around two dozen other countries have declared confirmed cases of the virus.

Amid increasing global concerns, Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to restrict entry to foreign nationals who have recently travelled to China.

Australia followed suit, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country would deny entry to all foreign nationals traveling from mainland China starting from Saturday.

“We’re in fact operating with an abundance of caution in these circumstances,” Morrison said. “So Australians can go about their daily lives with confidence.”

However, the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, said global trade and travel restrictions were not needed.

“We would want countries to focus on the mitigation efforts of identifying the possible importation of cases and responding to any domestic outbreak,” China WHO representative Gauden Galea told Reuters on Saturday.