The coronavirus outbreak infected 27 foreign nationals in China and two of them have died, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday, assuring that the country attaches great importance to the health and safety of all foreign citizens.
The SARS-like coronavirus outbreak has killed 908 people and at least 40,000 others have been infected by 2019-nCoV, which is believed to have emerged late last year in a market in Wuhan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang during his online media briefing here said 27 foreign citizens in China were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Among them, three patients have recovered and discharged from the hospital, he said.
Two foreigners — an American woman and a Japanese man — died from the coronavirus on Saturday in Wuhan while 22 others are undergoing treatment, Geng said.
While China has not given the details of the foreign nationals who contracted the virus, earlier reports said four Pakistanis and two Australians were being treated for the coronavirus attack.
Geng said China provided best treatment to the 60-year-old American woman who died due to the virus.
"While medical workers were doing the best to treat her in the hospital, the Chinese side has also been in contact with her family in China. We offer the deepest condolences over her passing. We have notified the US through diplomatic channels and will offer necessary assistance to the US side and his family," he said.
Weng also expressed condolences to the family of Japanese national who died in Wuhan due to the coronavirus.
Geng said China attaches great importance to the health and safety of all foreign nationals in Hubei province capital Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
"We have taken effective measures to timely respond to their reasonable concerns and requests. WHO director general Tedros also stressed many times that flying out in a rush is not recommended, the best way is being stay put and enhancing self-protection," he said
"We hope that WHO’s professional recommendations will be respected. For those countries that wish to take home their nationals, China will make relevant arrangements and offer necessary assistance consistent with international practices and our domestic epidemic control measures," he said.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus has overtaken global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic and the virus has spread to around 26 countries including India where three people in Kerala who returned from Wuhan contracted the virus.
The only fatalities outside the mainland have been a Chinese man in the Philippines and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.
Several countries have banned arrivals from China while major airlines have suspended flights.
While India has evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians from Wuhan, Indian officials say still over 80 Indians are held up there including 10 who could not board the Air India flight as they were stopped by the Chinese immigration officials after they tested for high temperature.
Over 700 Pakistanis are also stuck in Hubei province and the Pakistani government has not heeded to their pleas to evacuate them from there.