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Screening stepped up to prevent spread of coronavirus in SA - China's Lin

The death toll has now risen to more than 360 and the virus has claimed the life of at least one person outside of China, in the Philippines.

FILE: Passengers arriving from China wait in line to be checked by health officials at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam on 29 January 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - China's ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian said he believed that by working together, the world could stop the spread of the coronavirus soon.

The death toll has now risen to more than 360 and the virus has claimed the life of at least one person outside of China, in the Philippines.

*How to track the coronavirus outbreak

More than 17,000 people have been infected in China but there is no confirmed case in South Africa.

Lin said screening processes had been stepped up to ensure that no one entering South Africa spreads the virus.

"This is a very serious epidemic and a deadly virus posing a threat to the health and life of humankind globally. The novel coronavirus does not only remain in Wuhan, China, but has been spreading to some neighbouring countries."

WATCH: 'It's a ghost town': South Africans in Wuhan describe coronavirus lockdown

Meanwhile, China thanked South Africa for its support and expertise in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Lin said they were confident the virus would soon be under control and they were grateful for the help of South African scientists.

China said it urgently needed protective medical equipment as the death toll from the coronavirus rose.

Fears forced people in the densely-populated country of 1.4 billion to stock up on single-use surgical masks while frontline medical personnel at the centre of the outbreak had reported equipment shortages.

The country's foreign ministry said so far, countries including South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Hungary donated medical supplies.

Authorities said steps were being taken to bring in masks from Europe and the US as factories returned to production after the Lunar New Year.