The government of Mongolia said Monday it has closed its large border with China, and Malaysia announced that it would bar visitors from the Chinese province at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak after medical officials warned its ability to spread was growing.
The ban makes both nations the second and third countries to close its border with China, following North Korea. Malaysian officials said they would halt the issue of visas for Chinese travelers from Wuhan, where the virus was first reported last month, and surrounding areas.
The decision was made after consultations with experts and following the advice of the World Health Organization. Mongolia has also closed its schools, playgrounds and universities until March 2.
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Mongolia has not had any reported cases of the virus. Malaysia reported one.
Chinese authorities have scrambled to contain the disease, which began in Wuhan and has killed at least 80 people and infected nearly 2,000 others. Last week, the government suspended plane, train and bus travel to the city, which has a population of roughly 11 million people.
The city also banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas. A subsequent expansion of the lockdown spread to 17 cities, impacting more than 50 million people.
China’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Keqiang, visited Wuhan to “guide epidemic prevention work,” the Cabinet website said. Photos showed Li, in a blue smock and green face mask, meeting hospital employees.
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“To get the epidemic under control in Wuhan and the good health of people in Wuhan will be good news for the whole country,” Li told the crowd.
The death toll rose Monday when the southern island province of Hainan in the South China Sea reported its first fatality, an 80-year-old woman whose family arrived from Wuhan on Jan. 17.
Hubei, the Chinese province where Wuhan is located, has reported 76 deaths thus far. Other cities closed down popular sites to prevent further infections, including two of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.
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China also extended its Lunar New Year holiday to keep people indoors and reduce the risk of infection. The government said the end of the holiday will be pushed back from Sunday to Thursday to prevent large gatherings.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan was reportedly arranging the evacuation of diplomats and some American citizens Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.