China has expanded its lockdown against the deadly new virus to an unprecedented 36 million people as it rushes to build a prefabricated, 1,000-bed hospital for victims, as the death toll from the outbreak continues to rise, casting a pall over Lunar New Year, the country's biggest and most festive holiday.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across China climbed sharply to more than 1,287, with at least 41 deaths reported as of Saturday morning.
At least five cases are also reported in Hong Kong, two in Macau, and three cases in Taiwan.
Worldwide, there are a total of 1,321 confirmed coronavirus infections, according to Al Jazeera's count, with cases also reported in Japan (2), Thailand (5), South Korea (2), United States (2), Australia (1), France (3) Malaysia (3), Singapore (3), Nepal (1), and Vietnam (2).
As the death toll continues to rise, the government in the southern city of Haikou announced on Saturday that beginning at noon, local time, it will start a 14-day centralised medical observation for all tourists coming from Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus.
Tourists from Hubei, especially from Wuhan city, are not allowed to leave the hotel where the medical observation will be held during the 14-day period, the announcement said.
The Chinese government has also deployed 450 military medical staff in Hubei.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities on Saturday confirmed its first case of the deadly infection.
In a news conference in Melbourne, Victoria's state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a Chinese man aged in his 50s who last week returned from China had contracted the newly identified coronavirus.
In Malaysia, the health ministry announced on Saturday that three people have been infected with the virus.
Xinhua news agency also reported one case in Nepal, involving a student who is a student in Wuhan. He reportedly arrived in Nepal on January 5 and visited the hospital on January 13.
Elsewhere, France announced late on Friday its third case of the virus - the first cases in Europe. And the United States reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalised after returning from China.
In China, transportation was shut down in Wuhan - home to 11 million people and the epicentre of the outbreak - and at least 12 other cities in central China's Hubei province, encompassing a population bigger than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.
Authorities in Beijing and other Chinese cities cancelled many public celebrations and other events marking the Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday.
Hospitals in Wuhan grappled with a flood of patients and a lack of supplies. Videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations, with some complaining their family members were turned away at hospitals that were at capacity.
Authorities in Wuhan and elsewhere put out calls for medicine, disinfection equipment, masks, goggles, gowns and other protective gear.
"I don't think this virus has been properly controlled," a woman in Beijing told Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler. "I am very afraid of getting infected."
Source: Al Jazeera News
BDST: 1130 HRS, JAN 25, 2020