Coronavirus: Taiwan reports five new cases; total at 39

An art installation of a bear wearing a mask is seen in Chiayi, Taiwan, on Feb 27, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan reported a five-person jump in new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday (Feb 29), including four people who had contact with another infected patient in a hospital and one person returning from the Middle East, bringing Taiwan's total to 39.

The government's Central Epidemic Command Centre said a cleaner and three nurses were the four staff who had been infected at the hospital, which was treating another coronavirus case.

The nurses had treated the patient before he had been confirmed to have been infected, it added.

The fifth new case is a woman in her 60s who went on a tour to Egypt and Dubai and who returned to Taiwan on Feb 21. She began feeling unwell while in Egypt, the centre said.

She is most likely to have been infected while overseas, and the government is tracking down others who were on the same tour, it added.

Taiwan has reported one death from the coronavirus, while nine patients have recovered and been released from hospital.

The government on Thursday raised its epidemic response level to the highest, and postponed a major religious event scheduled for next month.

Next door, China, where the outbreak began, has reported more than 79,000 infections and more than 2,800 deaths.

The coronavirus has continued to expand its footprint around the world, with at least six countries on four continents reporting new cases for the first time on Friday.

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