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President Xi orders military to help deal with coronavirus as toll mounts to 132


Press Trust of India Beijing/Wuhan
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday ordered the military to "shoulder responsibility" to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 132 people, infected 6,000 others with six foreigners contracting the disease for the first time in China and spread to 17 countries.
President Xi, who heads the People's Liberation Army, told the military to keep their mission firmly in mind and shoulder responsibility to make contribution to winning the battle against the novel coronavirus, which he has described as a "demon", state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Already the military is pressing thousands of its medical personnel into Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak, to assist the doctors.
Xi's call to the military came as the number of confirmed cases of the rapidly spreading virus infection in mainland China reached 6,078 with 70 cases abroad, surpassing the cases witnessed during the SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, which had caused havoc in China in 2002-03. Over 800 people, mostly in China, died during the SARS epidemic.
The coronavirus, which first emerged in Wuhan in late December, has killed 132 people, infected over 6,000 others and spread to at least 17 countries, amid warnings by health experts that the epidemic may reach its peak in the next 10 days resulting in a big increase in number of cases.
The Chinese health authorities announced on Wednesday that 5,974 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions by Tuesday.
China's National Health Commission said in its daily report that 1,239 patients remained in critical condition and 9,239 people were suspected to be infected with the virus. A total of 103 people have been discharged from hospital after recovery, the commission said.
For the first-time, Tibet too reported a suspected case of coronavirus.
A total of 65,537 close contacts had been traced, the commission said, adding that among them, 1,604 were discharged after medical observation on Tuesday. A total of 59,990 people were still under medical observation.
Also for the first time since the virus surfaced in December, six foreigners, including four Pakistanis and two Australians, have contracted the virus, raising concerns among thousands of foreigners working in China.
Pakistan also confirmed that four of its nationals, all students, have been infected with the virus in Wuhan. Over 500 Pakistani students were in Wuhan.
Chinese officials said one of the Pakistani students who contracted the virus was found in Guangdong province.
Guangdong health commission deputy head Chen Zhusheng said that the Pakistani and two Australians were in a stable condition but it was not known how they contracted the virus.
Chen did not give details of the Australians, but said the Pakistani was a student studying in Wuhan, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Over 23,000 Indian students of which 21,000 are medical students are studying in China.

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First Published: Jan 29 2020 | 9:10 PM IST

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