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Coronavirus Infections Rise In China, Around World


An ambulance driver, wearing protective clothing is pictured after arriving at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on Jan. 26, 2020.

Fifty-six people in China have died from the coronavirus, according to Chinese officials,.

Nearly 2,000 people in China have been infected by the deadly contagion.

National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said Sunday little is known about the virus that he said has an incubation period that can range from one to 14 days. Ma said the virus is infectious during the incubation period, and is spreading more easily. He say infections are expected to continue to rise.

China said 688 new cases were diagnosed Saturday. And in the United States, authorities confirmed that a traveler from the Chinese city of Wuhan has been the third person to test positive for the disease in that country. The patient is in southern California.

President Xi Jinping said China is facing a "grave situation" and experts and other resources would be concentrated at specific hospitals to treat severe cases of the illness.

The virus is believed to have emerged late last year in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, at a seafood market illegally selling wildlife.

On Sunday, the government announced a temporary nationwide ban on the selling of wildlife.

Wuhan and more than a dozen other Chinese cities have been isolated in an effort to contain the coronavirus.

The virus hit China just as it was beginning the celebrations of the Lunar New Year, resulting in the canceling or the scaling back of festivities for tens of millions of Chinese.

Tourist destinations are closed and school closings have been extended, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

Public transportation has been severely restricted.

The U.S. said Sunday it is making plans to evacuate its diplomatic staff and other American citizens from Wuhan. The State Department warned, however, that accommodations for private citizens would be "extremely limited."

France and Russia are also planning evacuations for their citizens in Wuhan.

The deadly virus is spreading around the world. Cases have been reported in Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Nepal, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.