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China confirms 5,974 virus cases, exceeding nation’s SARS total


Takeo Aoyama (centre L) and Takayuki Kato (centre R), Japanese businessmen residing in Wuhan, speak to journalists during a press conference following their charter flight arranged by Japan’s government to evacuate its citizens from the Chinese city, at a terminal building after disembarking their aircraft at Haneda airport in Tokyo on January 29, 2020. The first Japanese nationals evacuated from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of a deadly virus outbreak, arrived in Tokyo on January 29 aboard a charter plane. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

The number of confirmed cases in the new virus outbreak in China reached 5,974 on Wednesday, overtaking the number of people infected in the mainland by the SARS epidemic in 2002-3.

China’s national health commission reported more than 1,400 confirmed new cases on Wednesday, as the death toll rose to 132.

There were 5,327 confirmed cases in mainland China during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic.

That outbreak killed more than 770 people globally, including 349 in mainland China.

Some experts have praised Beijing for being more reactive and open about the new virus compared to its handling of the SARS crisis.

But others say local officials had earlier been more focused on projecting stability than responding to the outbreak when it began to spread earlier this month.

Japan and the US evacuated nationals from hard-hit Wuhan city at the centre of the outbreak on Wednesday.

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