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China says WHO chief against virus-related evacuations, as countries plan pull-outs

  • China says WHO chief against virus-related evacuations, as countries plan pull-outs
    A growing number of countries have said they will evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, a central city of 11 million people and the epicenter of the outbreak. China says WHO chief against virus-related evacuations, as countries plan pull-outs
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The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday he was confident in China’s ability to contain a new coronavirus that has killed 106 people and that he did not think foreigners should be evacuated, China’s foreign ministry said.

A growing number of countries have said they will evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, a central city of 11 million people and the epicenter of the outbreak. A chartered plane taking out U.S. consulate staff was set to leave Wuhan on Wednesday, a spokeswoman at the U.S. embassy in Beijing said. Some space was being offered to other U.S. citizens.

India said it was preparing to evacuate its citizens from Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.

Concern is mounting about the impact of the coronavirus may have on the world’s second-biggest economy amid travel bans and an extended Lunar New Year holiday. Global stocks fell again, oil prices hit three-month lows and China’s yuan currency dipped to its weakest in 2020.

The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a meeting with State Councillor Wang Yi in Beijing, said he approved of the government’s measures to curb the outbreak, the foreign ministry said.

“Tedros said the WHO does not advocate for countries to evacuate their citizens from China, adding there was no need to overreact,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “He said the WHO is confident in China’s ability to prevent and control the epidemic.”

The WHO chief was not available for comment. A WHO panel of 16 independent experts twice last week declined to declare an international emergency over the outbreak.

The flu-like virus has spread overseas, with Sri Lanka and Germany the latest countries to be hit, but none of the 106 deaths has been outside China and all but six have been in the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged last month.