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Hong Kong medical workers strike as China coronavirus death toll hits 425

Hong Kong recently reported its first death from the virus. The workers its border with China shut off completely to ward off the virus.

WASHINGTON — With more than 20,000 cases and 425 deaths reported, China has begun moving patients suffering from a new virus into rapidly built or adapted facilities, although the degree of medical isolation among them appears to vary widely.

The first 50 patients were moved Tuesday into Huoshenshan Hospital, a prefabricated structure on the outskirts of the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Earlier footage appeared to show the 1,000-bed facility equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, including negative-pressure isolation wards to prevent the virus from breaking the air seal. A second hospital, Leishenshan, is due to be ready soon and will add another 1,600 beds.

Elsewhere in Wuhan, authorities are converting a gymnasium, exhibition hall and cultural center into hospitals with a total of 3,400 beds to treat patients with mild symptoms of the virus. Television footage of those facilities showed beds placed in tight rows in large rooms without dividers between them.

The total number of cases stood at 20,438 in China as of Monday.

Hong Kong hospitals are cutting services as medical workers strike for a second day to demand the borders with mainland China be shut completely to ward off the virus. All but two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed, but more hospital workers could join a bigger walkout Tuesday to demand complete closure of the border.

The territory reported its first death and the second fatality outside China. Hong Kong has reported two new local cases of the virus, bringing its total infection to 17. 

Hong Kong has reported two new local cases of the virus, bringing its total infection to 17.

There were 11 cases in the U.S. as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 82 cases were pending. The person who was the first U.S. patient was released from a hospital near Seattle Monday.

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Belgium has reported its first case of the new virus in a person who was repatriated from the Chinese epicenter of the outbreak.]

The health ministry said Tuesday the person was in good health and does not show any symptoms of the disease. The individual was among nine Belgians repatriated from Wuhan, China, over the weekend.

The infected person was taken to a special hospital for further care while the other returnees remain under observation.

More than 180 cases of the new type of coronavirus have been confirmed beyond mainland China.

Japanese health officials are conducting extensive medical checks on all 3,700 passengers and crew of a cruise ship that returned to the country after one passenger tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The U.S.-operated Diamond Princess returned to a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, late Monday, ending a 14-day tour during which it stopped at Hong Kong and several other Asian ports before returning to Japan.

Japanese government and tour company officials say they were notified by Hong Kong that an 80-year-old male passenger who got off the boat on the island tested positive for the virus.

More than 100 Malaysians have been quarantined after being evacuated from Wuhan. An AirAsia plane carrying 107 Malaysians and their non-Malaysians spouses and children landed at the Kuala Lumpur airport early Tuesday. They immediately underwent medical screenings, and the National Disaster Management Agency said two people who didn't pass the screenings were immediately taken to the hospital.

North Korea says it is mobilizing 30,000 health workers every day in its “all-out efforts” to guard against the spread of the virus. North Korea hasn’t reported any case of the new coronavirus, but some experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.