US citizen dies of coronavirus in China

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BEIJING The United States Embassy in Beijing on Saturday confirmed the death of the first American citizen from coronavirus in what appears to be the first confirmed foreign death from the outbreak, The New York Times has reported. At least 722 people have died from the virus in China, while more than 34,000 are infected, according to the latest official figures. The Chinese Health Commission has also confirmed another 3,399 new cases across the country. “We can confirm that a 60-year-old US citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at a hospital in Wuhan, China, on February 6,” an embassy spokesman told AFP, without specifying the person’s gender. “We offer the sincerest condolences to the family for their loss,” the spokesman said, adding that no further comment would be made out of respect for the family’s privacy. Two people have died from the virus outside mainland China: a man from Wuhan in the Philippines and a 39-yearold man in Hong Kong. The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that 19 foreigners have been infected in China, and two of them have recovered. The ministry refused to disclose their nationalities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said US was prepared to spend up to $100 million to assist China and other countries impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Stephen Biegun, deputy secretary of state, told a media briefing that the funding would help support response efforts by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Biegun said the United States has also sent nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China, including masks, gowns and other protective gear. WHO has been asking member countries for donations to bolster response efforts after tapping $9 million from its contingency fund for emergencies. Read also: US expects no issues in China ‘fulfilling their commitments’ despite coronavirus The virus has spread to two dozen countries, prompting several governments to ban arrivals from China and urge their citizens to avoid travelling to the country. Some have recommended their citizens leave China. Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China. At least 61 people aboard a cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, with thousands of passengers and crew facing a two-week quarantine.—AFP

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