FILE PHOTO: A UNICEF logo is pictured outside their offices in Geneva, Switzerland, January 30, 2017. Picture taken January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – A six-tonne shipment of respiratory masks and protective suits for health care workers landed in China on Wednesday for distribution in Wuhan, the epicenter of a spreading coronavirus outbreak, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

The United States and Japan flew citizens out of the central Chinese city as the death toll rose to 133 and the first case appeared in the Middle East. There have been 5,974 confirmed cases in China.[ nL4N29Y18Z]

UNICEF’s shipment, weighing six metric tonnes, was sent from its global supply hub in Copenhagen and landed in Shanghai, the agency said in a statement.

“This coronavirus is spreading at a breakneck speed and it is important to put all the necessary resources into halting it,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

“We may not know enough about the virus’s impact on children or how many may be affected – but we do know that close monitoring and prevention are key. Time is not on our side.”

UNICEF said it was working with other agencies including the World Health Organization on a coordinated response in China and other affected countries. The WHO announced on Tuesday that China had agreed to a team of international experts visiting to help combat the virus but gave no timetable or details.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Nick Macfie

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