The Chinese embassy in Nuku’alofa has told Tongans not to panic about the coronavirus outbreak.

“As some medical experts have pointed out, panic is more devastating than the epidemic itself,” the embassy said.

“Be confident. The epidemic is preventable, controllable and curable.”

The embassy said the Chinese government would fulfill its obligations to protect foreign citizens in China.

Tonga maintains an embassy in Beijing, but it is not known precisely how many Tongans may be in the country.

“The Chinese government is determined to win this war against the novel coronavirus,” the Chinese embassy said.

“The Chinese government will spare no effort to protect the safety and health of Tongan citizens in China, keep sharing information with Tong and work with the international community to win the fight against the epidemic.”

Evacuation

The embassy said the Chinese government saw no need to conduct mass evacuations of foreign nationals from China.

New Zealand and Australia are planning to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, which is at the centre of the outbreak.

About 600 Australians are registered there and about 80 New Zealanders.

Australians who are evacuated will be quarantined on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The New Zealand government said it was still finalizing its plans,

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned that New Zealanders in China must obey Chinese laws, rules and regulations including the travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities to contain the virus.

Death toll

The BBC reported this evening that the death toll of the coronavirus had risen to 170.

Chinese health authorities said there were 7,711 confirmed cases in the country as of 29 January.

Infections have also spread to at least 16 other countries.

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