Death toll from coronavirus in China rises to 361 as UK commits £20m to vaccine research

Turkish medical personnel work around an ambulance plane after it landed after flying from Wuhan, China Credit: Huseyin Avci/Turkish Ministry of Health via AP

China has updated the death toll from the [**coronavirus outbreak**](http://Eleven Brits arrive back in UK from China as Government launches coronavirus information campaign) to 361.

An additional 2,829 new cases have been reported over the last 24 hours, bringing the Chinese total to 17,205.

The latest figures on Monday come a day after the first death from the illness was recorded outside China, in the Philippines, as countries around the world evacuated hundreds of their citizens from the infection zone.

Chinese authorities completed a new, rapidly constructed 1,000-bed hospital for victims of the outbreak and delayed the reopening of schools in the hardest-hit province.

Infectious disease experts will use £20 million of UK Government funding to embark on an ambitious six-month plan to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

Nearly 100 British nationals and their families have been evacuated from the centre of the outbreak in Wuhan on two repatriation flights over the past few days.

Police escort a coach as it leaves RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, carrying passengers from a plane which transported British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China. Credit: PA

They are now being kept in isolation at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral where they will be held in an accommodation block for two weeks to monitor for any symptoms of the virus.

Despite their isolation they are said to be in good spirits.

Kharn Lambert, a PE teacher, has lived in Wuhan for the past five years and was visited by his 81-year-old grandmother, Veronica Theobald, when the outbreak occurred. They were among the first group of 83 British evacuees flown back on January 31.

Ten more evacuees, made up of British nationals and their family members, were arrived at the Merseyside hospital on Sunday evening.

According to a statement from Wirral Council, one passenger who had been due to arrive at the Arrowe Park Hospital with the other evacuees was diverted to another hospital after feeling "slightly unwell" on the flight.

Mr Lambert said it was "quite weird...being locked in" but said no-one was showing any coronavirus symptoms or complaining about feeling unwell.

"Everybody is in good spirits," he told Sky News' Kay Burley on Monday. "As you can imagine, it's not the best of circumstances but we're all trying to keep our spirits high.

"We're playing jokes on each other, we're having a laugh when we have the chance to see each other."

Visitors wear face masks at the Comic Exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan Credit: Chiang Ying-ying/AP

Following the first fatality outside of China, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved a ban on the entry of all non-Philippine citizens from China.

A 44-year-old from Wuhan died after developing severe pneumonia after being hospitalised in the Philippines on January 25 with a fever, cough and sore throat. His 38-year-old female companion, also from Wuhan, tested positive for the virus as well and remained hospitalised in isolation in Manila.

The US, Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and an assessment from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that such measures were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.

The vast majority of those infected are in China; about 150 cases have been reported in two dozen other countries.

The Huoshenshan temporary field hospital nears completion in Wuhan Credit: Chinatopix/AP

The US on Sunday reported its ninth case, this one involving a woman in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Santa Clara County who arrived in the US to visit family after recently travelling to Wuhan.

A hospital specially built to handle coronavirus patients in Wuhan is expected to open on Monday, just 10 days after construction began. A second hospital is set to open soon after.

Also, six officials in the city of Huanggang, next to Wuhan in Hubei province, were fired over “poor performance” in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It cited the mayor as saying the city’s “capabilities to treat the patients remained inadequate and there is a severe shortage in medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks”.

The trading and manufacturing centre of Wenzhou, with nearly 10 million people in coastal Zhejiang province, confined people to their homes, allowing only one family member to venture out every other day to buy necessary supplies.

Huanggang, home to seven million people, imposed similar measures on Saturday.

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With no end in sight to the outbreak, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have extended the Lunar New Year holiday break, due to end this week, well into February to try to keep people at home and reduce the spread of the virus.

All Hubei schools are postponing the start of the new semester until further notice.

The crisis is the latest to confront Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has been beset by months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the re-election of Taiwan’s pro-independence president and criticism over human rights violations in the traditionally Muslim territory of Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the domestic economy continues to slow, weighed down by slowing demand and the trade war with Washington.

New Zealand announced on Sunday it is temporarily barring travellers from China. The 14-day ban applies to foreigners leaving China but not to New Zealand residents.

New Zealand also raised its travel advice for China to “Do not travel,” the highest level.

Another flight carrying Britons from Wuhan arrived in the UK on Sunday. Credit: PA

Qatar Airways joined the growing number of airlines suspending flights to mainland China. Indonesia and Oman also halted flights, as did Saudi Arabia’s flagship national carrier, Saudia.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run media reported that 10 Saudi students were evacuated from Wuhan on a special flight. It said the students would be screened on arrival and quarantined for 14 days.

Over the weekend, South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan. A Turkish military transport plane carrying 42 people arrived in Ankara on Saturday night.

A French-chartered plane made its way toward France on Sunday with 300 evacuees from a multitude of European and African countries. And Morocco flew home 167 of its people, mostly students.

Indonesia flew back 241 citizens from Wuhan on Sunday and quarantined them on the remote Natuna Islands for two weeks. Several hundred residents protested the move.

A government worker takes the temperature of a passer-by at a checkpoint in Suining in south-western China’s Sichuan Province Credit: Chinatopix/AP

Europe so far has 25 people infected with the virus. The German Red Cross reported two more cases there on Sunday, both German citizens who were airlifted from Wuhan on Saturday on a military transport carrying 128 people. Eight earlier cases in Germany were all linked to a car parts factory.

France has six cases; Russia, Italy and Britain have two each, and Finland, Sweden and Spain each have one.

Vietnam counted its seventh case, a Vietnamese-American man who had a two-hour layover in Wuhan on his way from the US to Ho Chi Minh City. The country ordered schools to close for at least a week in 19 of its 54 provinces and cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which together account for more than four million students.

The number of confirmed cases will keep growing because thousands of specimens from suspected cases have yet to be tested, said the WHO representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea.