Chinese FM shifts media briefings online as Coronavirus death toll crosses 300
Beijing: As the coronavirus outbreak turns virulent in China with the death toll crossing over 300, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday announced that it will hold its daily media briefings online.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry holds the media briefings all weekdays. The briefings remain suspended since January 24 due to Chinese New Year/Spring festival holidays and are due to resume on Monday.
The weeklong public holiday has been extended till February 2 in view of the coronavirus attack which has spread from the worst-affected Hubei and its provincial capital Wuhan to the rest of China and many parts of the world.
The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death outside China from the deadly virus that has spread to 25 countries, including India, taking the total toll to 305.
So far, over 140 coronavirus cases have been reported from abroad, including India, where a second case of virus was reported from Kerala on Sunday.
Considering the apprehensions over human to human spread of the virus and officials restrictions on public gatherings, the foreign ministry on Sunday announced that the briefings will be held online.
“Facing the 2019-nCoV (official name for coronavirus) pneumonia outbreak, China has been working closely in solidarity with the international community to protect people’s lives and health security,” the ministry said in a statement to the media.
“In light of the current situation, in order to keep the journalists updated with the latest developments on China’s diplomatic front while ensuring their health”, the foreign ministry will hold daily online briefing every weekday starting February 3, it said.
“The Spokesperson will go online and use (China’s social media platform) WeChat to answer questions from journalists,” it said.
Officials of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, have been holding press briefings in Beijing and Hubei to update journalists about the developments related to the virus.