The death toll from a new coronavirus epidemic in mainland China surged past 1,500 on Saturday, as France reported the first death outside of the Asia-Pacific region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi acknowledged that the virus, known as COVID-19, was a significant challenge but defended Beijing’s management of the epidemic and lashed out at the “overreaction” of some countries.
His comments came a day after those returning to the Chinese capital from extended Lunar New Year holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
More than two dozen countries have confirmed cases and several have suspended trade and travel links with China in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Four deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – in Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan and the most recent in France.