Taiwan advises people not to go to Wuhan amid China virus outbreak

People wearing face masks at a metro station in Taipei, Taiwan, on Jan 21, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan is calling on people not to visit the Chinese city of Wuhan unless they absolutely have to, after an outbreak there of the new coronavirus, one case of which has been detected on the island.

The authorities have confirmed more than 300 cases of the virus in China, mostly in the central city Wuhan, where the authorities on Tuesday (Jan 21) said six people had died.

The outbreak has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai, with cases also confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the United States, as well as Taiwan.

"I want to call on our nationals please not to visit this region if not necessary," Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on her Facebook page late on Tuesday, referring to Wuhan.

Taiwan has stocks of 44 million surgical face masks and almost two million N95 face masks, which offer greater protection, and will release them as needed, she added, calling on people not to hoard them.

Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung wrote on his Facebook page that Taiwanese airlines should consider suspending routes to Wuhan.

Taiwan on Tuesday confirmed its first case of infection from the new coronavirus, a woman in her 50s who had returned to the island after working in Wuhan.

China's severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) coronoavirus epidemic in 2002-2003 killed nearly 800 people.

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