Wuhan mayor expects 1,000 more patients

The mayor of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak of a new coronavirus, said 1,000 new patients will likely be confirmed in the city soon.

Mayor Zhou Xianwang, wearing a face mask, told reporters on Sunday evening that more than 2,700 people are still under observation in Wuhan. He said it is possible that the city will soon confirm another 1,000 patients. This would push the total number of confirmed cases across China to over 3,000.

China's health authorities said they have confirmed 1,975 infections and 56 deaths due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Outside mainland China, cases have been reported in 13 countries and territories, bringing the number of patients around the world to over 2,000.

Authorities are rushing to build a hospital in Wuhan to accommodate those infected with the virus.

Chinese media report that authorities have also started building another hospital in the city to accommodate a total of up to 2,000 patients by early February.

The Chinese government will put in place a temporary ban on group tours to other countries, starting on Monday. It has decided to close domestic tourist spots and cancel long-distance bus services in the country.

The health authorities told reporters on Sunday that the virus is becoming more contagious. They said some patients with light symptoms may be unaware that they have contracted the virus. They added this has made it difficult to curb the spread of the disease.