Chinese President Xi Jinping called a politburo meeting Saturday to discuss ways to contain the deadly coronavirus, declaring the country is facing a “grave situation,” state television reported. The meeting took place as the new virus stopped all Lunar New Year celebrations for tens of millions of Chinese.
According to the report, Xi told politburo members the coronavirus is “accelerating its spread” and that experts and other resources would be concentrated at specific hospitals to treat severe cases of the illness.
This comes as the U.S. government is planning to evacuate American diplomats, their families, and other U.S. citizens from Wuhan on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal is reporting Saturday.
The report, which cites a person familiar with the plans, said the U.S. consulate there is contacting the estimated 1,000 Americans it is aware of in the city of 11 million people. Americans who are evacuated will be responsible for the cost of the evacuation via a plane that seats about 230 people, the person said.
Chinese state TV also says the government will treat all cases expeditiously, regardless of cost, and will guarantee that supplies are shipped to the Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Russia is talking with the China about the possibility of evacuating Russian citizens from the Chinese city Wuhan and also Hubei province, according to the RIA news agency, which cited the Russian embassy.
RIA is quoting the Russian embassy's press person in China saying there are no Russians inffected with the coronavirus.
China's National Health Commission says the death toll from the new virus has jumped to 41, with more than 1,200 infections in 29 provinces across the country.
Fifteen medical workers are among those who have been infected. One doctor has died.
Hundreds of medical personnel have been deployed to Wuhan, where the virus emerged late last year.
Wuhan, like 16 other Chinese cities, has been shuttered, in an effort to contain the coronavirus.
The local government of the virus-hit city said Saturday, "Motor vehicles shall be prohibited from driving in the central urban areas."
Beijing's Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland have been closed indefinitely. Popular tourist destination Sanya city in Hainan province has closed all tourist sites to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hong Kong, which has confirmed five cases of the virus in the territory, has declared a state of emergency, canceling the official Lunar New Year celebration and closing schools.
The virus is making is slowly making its way around the world.
Five cases have been reported in Thailand.
Australia has reported four cases.
France, Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan have each reported three cases.
Both the United States and Vietnam have confirmed two cases.
Nepal and Canada have reported one case each.