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China reports 323 new cases of mysterious virus — as death toll rises to 54

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The number of confirmed deaths from a viral outbreak in China has risen to 54, with authorities in hard-hit Hubei province on Sunday reporting 13 more fatalities and 323 new cases.

The latest numbers from Hubei, the epicentre of the contagion, would put the nationwide total of confirmed infections at 1,610, based on figures previously released by the central government.

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President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a “grave situation” as authorities raced to contain a respiratory illness that has caused the widespread abandonment of Lunar New Year celebrations nationwide and overwhelmed health facilities in Hubei.

The contagion remained centred on the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, which accounted for seven of the new deaths and 46 of the new confirmed cases, said the Hubei Health Commission.

Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities in the province have been locked down in a rapidly expanding quarantine effort marked by transport shutdowns and other restrictions on movement.

The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

It also has struck at possibly the worst time for China, when hundreds of millions of people are travelling across the country or overseas to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s most important festival.

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Hundreds of military doctors have been sent to Hubei and authorities are rushing to build a pair of field hospitals to deal with the crisis as patients swamp local medical facilities.

The virus has spread nationwide in China and cases have been reported in several other countries as far away as the United States, France and Australia.

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2020 Election

Donald Trump has launched a 2020 campaign disinformation juggernaut — and it’s gaining speed

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You may be forgiven if you are under the impression that the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak is just one more example of his incompetence, aggressive ignorance, contempt for science and outright abuse of government. But it's worse than that. For the White House, and especially for Donald Trump's re-election campaign, it's an opportunity to put into play the massive disinformation apparatus they have built for the 2020 presidential race.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Never Trumpers fear for their safety if they dare attend CPAC: report

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On Saturday, Politico profiled a handful of longtime conservatives who have criticized President Donald Trump — and the general consensus was that they feared hostility at this year's annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

One such figure was former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), a Tea Party darling who has since attacked Trump for undermining the rule of law, and briefly mounted a presidential primary challenge. He attended CPAC as a guest of comedian Trevor Noah, and attendees who saw him seemed conflicted. "Torn between catching up with an old colleague and being singled out by observers as talking to a Trump foe, they split the difference — and instead kept asking him how his wife was doing," wrote Tina Nguyen.

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HBO’s Maher scorches Trump for calling coronavirus a ‘hoax’: ‘Not something he can lie his way out of’

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During the "Overtime" segment of HBO's "Real Time," host Bill Maher launched into a broadside against Donald Trump for telling South Carolina rallygoers that the coronavirus outbreak is a "hoax" being pushed by the media Democrats.

In a furious back and forth with conservative guest Buck Sexton, Maher said this was one instance where the president "could not lie his way out of it."

According to Sexton, the crisis is serious but then he tried to deflect from the issue by accusing Democrats of "trying to score political points," when they point out the Trump administration's bumbling response.

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