Workers began trickling back to offices and factories around China on Monday as the government eased some restrictions on working during a coronavirus epidemic that has killed 908 people, most of them on the mainland.
Across mainland China, there were 3,062 new confirmed infections as of Sunday, bringing the total number so far to 40,171.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that 27 foreigners in the country have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus as of Monday morning, and two – one American and one Japanese – had died.
Stocks and oil fell while safe-haven gold rose as the death toll from the outbreak surpassed that of another coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which brought a global epidemic in 2002/2003.
A team of experts headed by the World Health Organization (WHO) was flying into Beijing on Monday to help assess the latest outbreak.
China has borne the brunt of the disease with the vast majority of confirmed cases and all but two of the deaths but WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been “some concerning instances” of transmission from people who had not been to China.
“The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg,” he said on Twitter.
Britain, which has had four cases of the virus, declared it a serious and imminent threat to public health, a step that gives the government additional powers to fight it.
Taiwan, which has 18 reported cases, expanded its restrictions on visitors from Hong Kong and Macau on Monday. It has earlier stopped mainland Chinese from coming and also banned international cruise ships from docking.
Sixty more cases have been found on a cruise ship off the Japanese port of Yokohama, media reported, taking the number to 130 out of some 3,700 people on board. The Diamond Princess was caught up in the epidemic when an 80-year-old man tested positive for the virus after disembarking last month in Hong Kong.