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China says coronavirus curbs starting to work

China reported a fall in the number of new coronavirus cases on Sunday (February 16) with a health official suggesting that intensive efforts to stop the spread of the disease were beginning to work.

Meanwhile, the number of infected continues to rise on the Princess Diamond cruise ship.

Seventy more cases were reported on the vessel, which is quarantined off Japan's Yokohama.

That took the total number of cases, as of Sunday, to 355 of the roughly 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

Those testing positive are sent to hospital and no one from the ship has died of the virus.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo recommended that 400 U.S. citizens onboard should get off and take one of the evacuation flights it is arranging on Sunday - adding that everyone would be screened and no one who is infected or showing symptoms would be allowed on the chartered flights.

Hong Kong, Canada and South Korea also said they planned to evacuate their citizens from the ship.

The coronavirus has presented Beijing with the huge challenge of stamping out the epidemic whilst also preventing damage to the world's second largest economy.

But on Sunday, China's National Health Commission said a campaign to prevent and the control the disease was showing results.

It reported 2,009 new cases - down from 2,641 the previous day and said there were 142 new deaths, just one lower than reported on Saturday (February 15).

China has placed Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, under virtual lockdown.

Spokesman Mi Feng said medical support and preventative measures in Hubei had headed off more critical cases and that mild cases were being treated more quickly to prevent them from becoming critical.