Billionaire Bill Gates has increased his pledge to $100m (£77m) to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus as the number of cases worldwide climbed to almost 25,000 and the death toll neared 500.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Foundation said today that the funding will strengthen detection, isolation and treatment, as well as developed vaccines and therapies.
The announcement follows on from the $10m (£7.7m) the foundation committed to the outbreak at the end of January.
The markets rallied this morning after opening in the red after reports that scientists may have found a breakthrough in developing a possible treatment for coronavirus.
Sky News reported that scientists at Imperial College London said they have made a significant breakthrough in reducing part of the normal development time of a possible vaccine from “two to three years to just 13 days”.
The virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, has now killed 490 people, two outside of mainland China.
China’s National Health Commission reported 65 more deaths yesterday, suggesting that the coronavirus is spreading faster. It has sparked Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific airline to ask all of its 27,000 staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave as demand crashed.
More than two dozen airlines have now suspended flights to mainland China, with several countries banning entry of those who have travelled there in the last two weeks.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced today that the UK would charter another flight to bring British citizens back from the epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, on Sunday. It comes just a day after the Foreign Office urged all British nationals to leave China.
Two cruise ships carrying around 3,700 passengers are also in quarantine off the coast of Japan after 10 people were reported to have tested positive for the illness.