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US authorizes embassy evacuations in China, as coronavirus death toll ticks up

US authorizes embassy evacuations in China, as coronavirus death toll ticks up

The US State Department has authorized the departure of non-emergency staff at its embassy in Beijing and consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang, a spokesman told Reuters on Thursday. The decision was made as the SARS-like coronavirus spread to every region of China, killing at least 170 people and infecting over 8,000. The virus has been confirmed in nearly 20 countries, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The State Department’s departure order comes a week after American diplomatic staff were evacuated by plane from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people and the epicenter of the outbreak. Several hundred Americans remain in Wuhan, and the department announced on Thursday that additional flights will be provided as early as next week to get them out.