China virus toll passes 130 as U.S. weighs flight ban

BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from a new coronavirus in China rose sharply to 132 on Wednesday with nearly 1,500 new cases, heaping pressure on Beijing to control the disease as U.S. officials said the White House was weighing whether to suspend flights to the country.

The White House is holding daily meetings on the outbreak and monitoring China-U.S. flights as a likely source of infections, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters, though it had decided against suspending air traffic.

A senior Trump administration official said the administration had not asked airlines to suspend flights, after CNBC reported that the White House had told airline executives it was considering such as drastic move.

Fears of the spreading virus have already pushed airlines around the world to reduce flights to China and global companies to restrict employee travel to the country, while sectors from mining to luxury goods have been shaken by concerns for global growth in the event of a worst-case pandemic.

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