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7 killed as South Korea coronavirus total reaches 833

SEOUL, Feb 24: South Korea confirmed 70 more novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Monday afternoon, taking the tally to 833, by far the largest in any nation outside of China.

The updated figures on the website of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the day's total to 231, the highest to date.

South Korea so far has reported seven deaths from the virus infection cases.

And in Italy, seven deaths have been reported in the country's north and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 229, prompting emergency measures in a number of Europeam countries.

China corona virus toll crosses 2,600

BEIJING, Feb 24: China had 150 new confirmed deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, the National Health Commission announced. The death toll nationwide on Monday had climbed to 2,595 among 77,262 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq and Oman on Monday reported their first infections from the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,600 globally, the vast majority in China.

Kuwait reported three cases, Oman two and Bahrain and Iraq each confirmed one, bringing the number of countries in the Middle East with the virus - officially known as COVID-19 0 to nine.

China virus toll crosses 2,000

BEIJING, Feb 19: The death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.

China's National Health Commission reported 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, the lowest daily rise since Jan. 29, while Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak - reported the lowest number of new infections since Feb. 11.

The latest figures bring the total number of coronavirus cases in China to over 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan. The city of 11 million people, where the virus first appeared last year, is under virtual lockdown.

Chinese officials have said the apparent slowdown in infection rates is evidence the flu-like virus is being brought under control but global health officials say it is still to early to predict how the epidemic will play out.

The head of a leading hospital in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, died of the disease on Tuesday, the seventh health worker to have succumbed to the disease, known as COVID-19.

Chinese state media reported that Hubei would adopt more forceful measures to find patients with fever to help contain the epidemic, on top of steps already taken to isolate the province.

China virus toll 1,775

BEIJING, Feb 17: The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic has climbed to 1,775 after 105 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei Province, and the confirmed cases jumped to 70,548, officials said Monday morning. China announced measures such as closing non-essential public venues and stringent traffic restrictions to contain the epidemic in the worst-hit Hubei.

The China's National Health Commission said 2,048 new cases of deadly infection have been confirmed, taking the total number of COVID-19 infected cases to 70,548.

Though 10,844 people had been discharged from hospitals after recovery, the commission said in its daily report said that 7,264 people were still suspected to be infected by the deadly virus.

China is considering delaying its most high-profile annual political meeting for the first time in decades, as the government attempts to contain an outbreak of a deadly new strain of coronavirus.

WHO warns against blanket measures over the deadly infection

GENEVA, Feb 17: The World Health Organization (WHO) today warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population.

WHO also said that — with a mortality rate of around 2% -- COVID-19 was "less deadly" than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

"If we are going to disrupt every cruise ship in the world on the off chance that there might be some potential contact with some potential pathogen then where do we stop?" said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.

China virus toll rises to 1666; confirmed cases cross 70,000

BEIJING, Feb 16: The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic has climbed to 1,666 after 142 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei Province, and the confirmed cases jumped to almost 70,000, officials said on Sunday, as top World Health Organization (WHO) experts scramble to assist Beijing contain the virus spread.

China's National Health Commission confirmed 2,009 new infection cases across the country. A man today died from the deadly virus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island, which has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases.

Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported fewer new infections for a second straight day with 139 deaths overnight. It had 1,843 new cases, dropping from 2,420 a day earlier. The latest report brought the total confirmed cases in Hubei to 56,249 cases.

Meanwhile, an infected 83-year-old US woman from a cruise liner raised concerns of further cases as more than 2,200 passengers and crew headed home after being trapped for nearly two weeks searching for a port.

China virus toll crosses 1,350; 60,000 infected

BEIJING, Feb 13: The Chinese province at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak reported a record rise in the death toll on Thursday under a new diagnostic method, and Beijing sacked two local leaders after criticisim of their handling of the crisis.

Health officials in Hubei province said 242 people had died from the flu-like virus on Wednesday, the fastest rise in the daily count since the pathogen was identified in December, and bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 1,310. The previous highest daily rise in the toll was 103 on February 10. The latest toll from Hubei pushes the number of deaths in mainland China past 1,350, with about 60,000 confirmed cases.

Reports in state-run media said provincial Communist Party boss Jiang Chaoliang had been sacked as secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee, and Ma Guoqiang had been removed as party chief in the provincial capital Wuhan.

The reports did not state a reason for the dismissals, but the two are the most high-profile Chinese officials to date to be removed from duty following the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan late last yet.

"Thank you Communist Party. It should have been done earlier," said Wuhan resident Wang You.

Dozens of low-level health officials across the country have also lost their jobs for failing to contain the spread of the epidemic, which is believed to have emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife was traded illegally.

The spike in the death toll came a day after China had reported its lowest number of new cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by the country's senior medical adviser that the epidemic could end by April.

Another 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei alone on Thursday, from 2,015 nationwide a day earlier, after provincial officials started using computerised tomography (CT) scans to look for signs of the virus.

Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information allowing for identification of organisms like viruses.

Using quicker CT scans that reveal lung infections would help patients receive treatment as soon as possible and improve their chances of recovery, the Hubei health commission said.

The new diagnostic procedure could explain the spike in the death toll, according to Raina McIntyre, head of biosecurity research at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

"Presumably, there are deaths which occurred in people who did not have a lab diagnosis but did have a CT. It is important that these also be counted," she told Reuters.

The new testing methodology is only being used in Hubei province so far, Chinese officials said.

Asian stock markets wobbled and the safe-havens of the Japanese yen, gold and bonds rose after the new Hubei numbers dashed hopes the epidemic was stabilising and the Chinese economy could bounce back quickly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday the number of cases of infection in China had stabilised but it was too early to say the epidemic was slowing.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

Experts say a vaccine could still be months away.

The latest toll from Hubei pushes the number of deaths in mainland China past 1,350, with about 60,000 confirmed cases.

Hundreds of infections have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and territories, but only two people have died from the virus outside mainland China - one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama, where a further 44 cases were reported on Thursday. So far, 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive.

There was a happy ending for another cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which docked in Cambodia after being denied docking rights in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have the virus, even though none had tested positive.

"This morning, just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment," Angela Jones, an American tourist on the ship, said. "I thought: Is this real?"

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, remains under virtual lockdown, and other major Chinese cities are facing severe travel restrictions.

United Airlines said it would extend cancellations of all U.S. flights to China through late April, meaning all U.S. passenger carriers flying to China had now cancelled flights into late April.

The move is the latest disruption to international travel that has paralysed businesses and played havoc with major conferences and sporting events.

The Mobile World Congress, an annual telecoms industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, was cancelled on Wednesday after a mass exodus by exhibitors due to coronavirus-related concerns.

The Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, originally set for Shanghai on April 19, was postponed, as was Singapore's annual rugby sevens tournament scheduled for April 11-12, a source familiar with the matter said.

Hong Kong extended the suspension of schools till at least March 16 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the city, where 50 cases have been confirmed.

In Taiwan, which has reported only 18 cases of the virus, cabinet proposed a $2 billion package to help the economy deal with the impact of the epidemic.

Coronavirus patient discharged from Kerala hospital after being cured

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 13: One of the three coronavirus-infected patients in Kerala was discharged from the Medical College Hospital in Alappuzha on Thursday after he consistently tested negative for more than a week. The second patient was likely to be discharged in the next couple of days and the third was reported to be stable, said authorities.

State health minister K K Shailaja said the battle was only half won and it was too early to say the worst was over.

“I talked to him over phone. He is in good spirits. He promised to meet me once his home quarantine is over. I salute doctors, para-medical staff and health workers who toiled to realise this,” she said speaking of the patient who was discharged.

Minister said the discharged patient’s results were consistent throughout the week but samples of the first patient-- a girl medical student admitted to Thrissur medical college-- were not so clear delaying her discharge. The minister said the first patient will also leave the hospital in a couple of days.

The state had pressed the emergency button on Feb 3 after a third coronavirus infected patient was found in Kasaragod in north Kerala. All three were China-returned medical students who travelled together. After declaring a “medical calamity” the state had carried out a massive drive to contain the secondary infection and isolated all contacts and started an awareness campaign at the grassroots level.

“It seems our vigilance and surveillance really paid off. Whether it is surveillance, isolation, tracing contacts or home quarantine, many spent sleepless nights. These are good lessons for us. We will not lower our guard now,” said the minister adding the health department will continue its campaign on hand hygiene, sneeze and cough precautions and cleanliness.

The minister said initially she was really worried after students started returning from China in large numbers. “During Nipah infection, two years ago, it was largely confined to Kozhikkode district only. But now China-returnees were spread in all 14 districts. So, then we thought an emergency is needed to contain the possible secondary infection,” she said.

Having learnt a lesson from the Nipah outbreak two years ago, the state was on battle mode from the word go. At least 2,500 people are still under observation in their homes and 30 others are under observation in hospitals. Experts have lauded the state for restricting the spread of the disease its preparedness and quick response.

 

Coronavirus death toll climbs to 1,114 in China as WHO names it Covid-19

BEIJING, Feb 12: More than 90 people died from the coronavirus outbreak in China on Tuesday, pushing the death toll to 1,114 until midnight, Chinese health officials said on Wednesday.

The total number of infections has risen to 44,742 with more than 33,300 cases reported from the worst-hit central Chinese province of Hubei, the officials added.

The Geneva-based WHO has given a new name to the disease, Covid-19, which was announced late on Tuesday.

The soaring numbers come in the backdrop of authorities ordering the sealing of residential buildings in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, from Tuesday to prevent human-to-human transmission.

“All residential communities will be sealed off from Tuesday, in a bid to further strengthen the control of the epidemic and minimise the flow of personnel,” a government notice said adding that “…all building units with confirmed patients or suspected cases should be strictly closed and managed.”

“Suspected cases with mild symptoms including patients who have a fever should be quarantined and treated at nearby designated medical institutions. They shall not seek medical treatment in other districts to curb the spread of the virus,” another notice, quoted by Chinese state media, said.

The city, and much of Hubei province, has been under an unprecedented lockdown January 23 onwards to contain the outbreak.

The Hubei housing authority has announced that all the residential areas in the province would restrict people from going in and out amid coronavirus outbreak, all people would have body temperature checked before entry, provincial media reported.

“Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, is still at very difficult moment, although 2019 n-CoV has lower death rate compared to SARS and MERS, the city has not completely solved the problem of people-to-people transmission,” Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government top medical advisor on the epidemic said on Tuesday.

The province reported 1,638 new cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia on February 11, with 94 new deaths and 417 cases of recovery. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 33,366, with 1,068 deaths and 2,639 cases of recovery.

Hours earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had given a new name to the illness that has triggered an international public health emergency, infecting nearly 400 more people in 24 countries.

The name “COVID-19” does not make any reference to a place or animal to avoid stigmatisation.

“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while announcing it.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” he added.

The new name is taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease”, with 2019 representing the year that it emerged.

The outbreak emerged in Hubei’s capital city, Wuhan, in December and was reported to the WHO December 31.

“COVID-19 (or Covid-19) stands for coronavirus disease in 2019,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist said in Geneva at a press briefing.

“The virus itself is named by international group of virologists who will look into the taxonomy,” she said, adding: “But it is important to have a name for this disease that everybody uses.”

Coronavirus death toll crosses 1000, kills more than a 100 in China in a day

BEIJING, Feb 11: China has recorded a new morbid highest with more than a 100 people dying of the novel coronavirus on Monday and the death toll crossing the 1000-mark.

The number of dead from the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) stood at 1016 on the mainland at Monday midnight while as many as 42634 remain infected, health officials said on Tuesday morning.

At least two persons have so far died outside the mainland: One each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 319 cases in 24 countries have been reported so far.

The toll continued to rise as President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance in Beijing amid the escalating public health crisis in China.

Xi admitted – for the second time in two weeks – that the epidemic had “exposed shortcomings in China’s disease prevention and control system”.

The state media released photos of a surgical mask-wearing Xi getting his temperature at a hospital in Beijing designated to treat NCP patients and interacting with medical workers.

“Xi called for intensified efforts to reduce the impact, and help for affected businesses to prevent major layoffs,” the state media quoted him as saying.

Xi’s second-in-command, Premier Li Keqiang is leading the high-level group overseeing national efforts to contain the epidemic, which has dealt a heavy blow to the Chinese economy and dampened spirits in the very first few weeks of the Chinese new year.

The central Chinese province of Hubei continued to be the worst-hit: It reported 2,097 new NCP cases on February 10, with 103 new deaths and 427 recovered. Total infection number in the province increased to 31,728, with 974 dead and 2,222 recovered, officials updated on Monday.

The city at the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province’s capital, Wuhan, has restricted the entry and exit of residents from residential buildings, health officials announced.

Checkpoints have been set up outside apartment blocks to enhance prevention measures.

Officials have claimed that 10.59 people in Wuhan have been checked for the virus.

The WHO announced late on Monday that “…an advance team of WHO experts has just arrived in China, led by Dr Bruce Aylward, to lay the groundwork for the larger international team”.

“Bruce and his colleagues will be working with their Chinese counterparts to make sure we have the right expertise on the team to answer the right questions,” WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva.

“In recent days we have seen some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China, like the cases reported in France yesterday and the UK today,” Tedros said.

“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now, it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment. We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire,” the WHO chief said.

As many as 168 labs around the world with the right technology to diagnose coronavirus have been identified.

The WHO has sent kits to Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Iran, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

 

Wuhan coronavirus death toll tops 900 as China cautiously returns to work

HONG KONG, Feb 10: Millions of people across China are heading back to work after the Lunar New Year break turned into an extended quarantine due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

Many will be working from their homes, however, with strict quarantine guidelines in place in many cities and most businesses urging people to work remotely if possible to reduce the chances of transmission.

Some semblance of normality may have returned, but the outbreak shows no signs of slowing, with the number of confirmed cases now at over 40,000 worldwide and the death toll at 910.

That means the coronavirus has officially killed more people than the SARS pandemic of 2003, previously one of the worst medical crises in recent Chinese history.

A total of 3,281 patients infected with the coronavirus have since been discharged from hospital as of Sunday, Chinese health authorities said.

The vast majority of the deaths have been in mainland China, leaving the country in something of a bizarre situation where some areas of it will be returning to something approaching business as usual, even as other regions face increasingly draconian restrictions on their movement and behavior in a desperate attempt to contain the virus.

A team of doctors and researchers from the World Health Organization left for China on Sunday to assist with the outbreak, led by Bruce Aylward, who the organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described as a "veteran of past public health emergencies." Aylward led the WHO's response to Ebola, as well as initiatives for immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication.

Even as the epicenter of the outbreak remains in Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is the capital and accounts for almost 30,000 of the total confirmed cases, the epidemic has spread worldwide, affecting more than two dozen countries.

The largest outbreak outside of mainland China is on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in the Japanese city of Yokohama. On Monday, an additional 65 cases were confirmed aboard, bringing the total number of cases on the ship to 135 -- nearly doubling the previous total of 70 confirmed cases Sunday.

Japan has 160 total cases, including those aboard the cruise ship. Beyond Japan, Singapore has reported 40 cases, Hong Kong has 38 infections and one death, Thailand has confirmed 32 cases, and South Korea 27.

Cruise liners have emerged as a major battleground in the attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

As well as the ship in Yokohama, two vessels in the US and Hong Kong had also been under quarantine, with passengers and crew tested for the virus.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, which has been docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, since returning on Friday, will be able to set sail Monday, however, after four passengers who were taken to hospital for further evaluation showed no signs of the virus.

All 3,600 people on board the World Dream ship in Hong Kong will also be able to disembark Monday, after five days under quarantine. Health authorities said that everyone on board had tested negative.

Passengers on board the Princess Cruises liner in Yokohama have not been so lucky. So far at least 135 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus, amid signs of a full blown outbreak on board, one of the largest outside of mainland China. Information from Princess Cruises and a tally put the number of infected Americans on the ship at 24.

Those cruise passengers have been under strict quarantine for over a week now, confined to their cabins as medical personnel conduct tests on the 3,700 people on board.

Princess Cruises said it will offer a full refund to all passengers on board. The company's president, Jan Swartz, thanked passengers for their "perseverance and understanding."

"All monies paid to Princess Cruises including your cruise fare, round trip Princess Air, pre- or post-Cruise Plus hotels, transfers, prepaid shore excursions, gratuities and other items, and taxes, fees and port expenses will be refunded to the original form of payment," Swartz wrote.

Swartz said the company will "refund reasonable independent expenses," along with air travel, transfers or pre/post-cruise hotels. Each guest also will receive a 100% future cruise credit equal to the fare passengers paid for the quarantined voyage, Swartz wrote. That credit has to be applied by February 28, 2021.

"It is our sincere hope that the refund and credit will help ease at least a small bit of the stress you may be feeling right now," Swartz wrote in a letter to passengers.

There was outrage in China on Friday as news emerged of the death of Li Wenliang. A doctor in Wuhan, Li had attempted to warn friends of a new virus spreading, but was detained by police in the city for "rumormongering." He was later hailed as a whistleblower by both the public and state media, but was soon hospitalized with the virus.

Following Li's death, Chinese authorities struggled to control the narrative, especially as the censors appeared to be trying to massage the timing of the announcement, deleting posts announcing his passing. Hundreds of thousands of posted demands for free speech online, in a rare challenge to the authorities, who deleted posts left and right.

History appeared to be repeating itself over the weekend, as it emerged that citizen journalist Chen Qiushi had been missing for several days. Chen, who had been carrying out critical reporting from inside of Wuhan, went missing on Thursday evening, just as hundreds of thousands of people in China began demanding freedom of speech online.

Friends and family later found out from the police that he had been forced into quarantine. By Sunday, Chen's disappearance had started to gain traction on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, with many pleading for his release.

"Hope the government can treat Chen Qiushi in a fair and just way," one user wrote on Sunday morning. "We can no longer afford a second Li Wenliang!"

Tight censorship and control of the narrative in the early days of the outbreak has been blamed for aiding the spread of the virus from Wuhan to the rest of the country. Officials in the city downplayed the severity of the virus in public even as evidence was available that it was spreading from person-to-person.

Coronavirus test report now possible in 15 minutes

BEIJING, Feb 10: A new test kit to detect coronavirus, that takes just 15 minutes, has been developed at Tianjin University of China. It will help save time in screening out potential patients.

According to Global Times, Tianjin University developed the kit in collaboration with Beijing Biotech company. The kit is undergoing clinical trials and will be sent to the health regulator for approval.

Earlier, the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), Chinese health regulatory body, approved a kit developed by SunSure Biotech, which cut the screening time to 30 minutes.

The NMPA approved four test kits on January 26.

India’s first coronavirus patient recovers, may get to go home soon

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 10: Amid the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest warning that the coronavirus outbreak outside China can accelerate in the coming days, there is some good news from Kerala which reported the country’s all three positive cases.

The first coronavirus patient, a woman student from Thrissur who returned from Wuhan, is on the path to recovery. Her latest sample, in fact the fifth one, is also negative, doctors at the Thrissur Medical College Hospital said adding one more result was awaited and after that she could go home.

Last week the state government had withdrawn the “medical calamity” warning after it successfully restricted virus-affected patients to three. It pressed the emergency button last Monday after a third patient was detected in Kasaragod in north Kerala. All three were China-returned medical students. The first patient tested positive on January 30, a week after she returned from China.

Following this, the state had carried out a vigorous drive to contain the secondary infection and started a massive awareness campaign at the grassroot level. Results from the ground show these efforts have yielded results.

“We have nursed her back to life. We can say she is completely recovered. To doubly ensure this, we are awaiting another result after which she can go home and can be quarantined there for another two weeks or so,” said a senior doctor of the Thrissur Medical College Hospital. He said her age (24) and medical background really helped them to win the battle. Officials of the health ministry said the two other patients were also on the road to recovery.

Despite positive signals, State Health Minsiter K K Shailaja, who is leading the battle against the virus, said the time was not ripe to lower guard. She said the state will declare itself virus-free only after the three patients are discharged from the hospitals. Two others are undergoing treatment in isolation wards in Kasaragod and Alappuzha hospitals.

The minister said 3,120 people were under home quarantine and 45 others in different hospitals. Experts working in the area said it was a major success to restrict the positive cases to three. They have also lauded the state’s preparedness and quick response.

Those under home quarantine are being contacted thrice daily by assigned health workers and they ensure their basic needs including food. Though the incubation period recommended by the WHO is 14 days, Kerala being a densely-populated state is observing a 28-day period, said officials. Fifteen students who came back two days ago after being stranded in an airport in China for three days were also discharged from the hospital next day as they weren’t showing any symptoms.

China’s Wuhan aims to test all suspected cases of coronavirus by tomorrow

BEIJING, Feb 10: China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has not been able to confirm all existing suspected cases of the coronavirus despite a rush to speed up testing, the city’s Communist Party Secretary told a news conference on Monday.

Ma Guoqiang said the Wuhan government would, however, aim to test all suspected cases by Tuesday. There have been growing complaints that many patients in the city of 11 million have not been tested or admitted for full-time treatment due to the pressure on medical resources.

Ma added that 1,499 patients in critical conditions who were not admitted for treatment before Feb. 8 have now been hospitalised.

Coronavirus death toll rises to 813, exceeds SARS fatalities in 2003

BEIJING, Feb 9: The number of people who have died after being infected by the novel coronavirus rose to 813 on Sunday, surpassing in less than two months the death toll during the eight-month-long outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus in 2003.

Total infections from the coronavirus, which is similar to the SARS pathogen, reached around 37,500 on Sunday, and officials in Shanghai said they had observed a worrying new attribute in the new outbreak: the virus can infect new patients as an aerosol. SARS had claimed the lives of 774 people in 2002-03.

Experts and officials said the coming week will be crucial as millions of Chinese return to their places of work after the Chinese New Year holidays, which were extended in an effort to curb the disease’s spread.

The number of new cases logged over Saturday was 3,419 — slightly higher than the 3,205 seen the previous day but still lower than the peak of 3,925 reported on Wednesday.

“That means the joint control mechanism of different regions and the strict prevention and control measures have worked,” a spokesman for the National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said at a news conference.

Among the new infection cases were six more people diagnosed with the virus among the 3,700 passengers on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan, Reuters reported. The crew of the ship includes 136 Indians, who have appealed to the Indian government for help.

The new cases are an American passenger in her 70s and five crew members — four Filipinos and a Ukrainian. The infections on Diamond Princess, now 70 in all, represents the single-largest cluster of patients outside of a hospital in China.

Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as the government ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home — a level of restriction that is predicted to hit the Chinese as well as parts of the global economy.

Financial markets in many countries have slumped and businesses in India are taking stock of inventories of raw materials and products they import from Chinese manufacturers.

On Sunday, a fourth British citizen was confirmed to have been infected by the virus following a chain of contact that demonstrated how virulent the pathogen is. The latest patient is believed to have contracted it from another British citizen while they briefly shared lodging at a ski resort in France.

Officials in Shanghai said the they have now confirmed a new transmission route for the virus: as aerosol. “Aerosol transmission refers to the mixing of the virus with droplets in the air to form aerosols, which causes infection after inhalation, according to medical experts,” Chinese news outlet China Daily quoted Zeng Qun, deputy head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, as saying.

Aerosol transmission can potentially cause someone to be infected if a patient nearby sneezes.

Till now, the virus is believed to have spread through direct transmission — through contact with blood or body fluids – or indirect transmissions, which include contact with a surface infected by a patient.

As millions of Chinese prepared to go back to work, the public dismay and mistrust of official numbers was evident on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

“What’s even more frustrating is that these are only the ‘official’ data,” said one user.

“We all know we can’t purchase masks anywhere, why are we still going back to work?” said a second. “More than 20,000 doctors and nurses around the country have been sent to Hubei, but why are the numbers still rising?” asked a third.

Authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days on to holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January and some restrictions continued. Among the latest 89 deaths, 81 were in Hubei.

An American hospitalised in the provincial capital Wuhan, where the outbreak began, became the first confirmed non-Chinese victim. The Washington Post identified him as Hong Ling, a 53-year old geneticist who studied rare diseases at Berkeley.

Xi urges Trump to respond ‘reasonably’ to epidemic; Toll climbs to 636

BEIJING, Feb 7: Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on Friday with US President Donald Trump on the novel coronavirus outbreak and urged Washington to respond “reasonably” to the epidemic, state media reported.

Xi told Trump on the phone that China was “fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic”, and that “the long-term trend of China’s economic development for the better will not change”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The viral outbreak, which is believed to have originated in central China late last year, has now infected at least 31,000 people and caused 636 deaths, mostly within China.

Local governments across China have locked down cities of tens of millions of people in response to the crisis, while global panic has risen over the more than 240 cases that have emerged in two dozen countries.

Xi’s comments come hours after the death of a whistleblower doctor, punished for sharing information about the virus, prompted an immense outpouring of public grief and anger over how Chinese authorities have handled the crisis.

Xi called the fight to contain the virus a “people’s war” and told Trump that China has implemented “nationwide mobilisation, comprehensive deployment and rapid response” along with “the strictest prevention and control measures” against the virus.

Xi also urged the US to act “reasonably” in response to the outbreak, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Beijing has hit out against strict measures by other countries to contain the spread of the virus, calling travel bans against Chinese arrivals by a growing list of nations “unkind” and going against the advice of the World Health Organization.

The US has temporarily barred entry to foreigners who have been in China within the past two weeks, joining countries including Italy, Singapore and Mongolia who have announced expansive restrictions on travellers from the virus-hit country.

The United States, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations have also advised their citizens not to travel to China.

Chinese Doctor Who First Warned About Coronavirus Dies

BEIJING, Feb 6: Beijing: Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistle-blowers who warned other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by the police, died of the epidemic on Thursday, official media reported.

Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor who tried to warn other medics of the epidemic, died of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the state-run Global Times reported.

He was the first to report about the virus way back in December last year when it first emerged in Wuhan, the provincial capital of China's central Hubei province.

He dropped a bombshell in his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and quarantined in his hospital.

He explained that, according to a test he had seen, the illness was a coronavirus - a large family of viruses that includes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which led to 800 death in China and the world in 2003.

He also told his friends to warn their loved ones privately. But within hours screenshots of his messages had gone viral - without his name being blurred.

"When I saw them circulating online, I realised that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li Wenliang was quoted saying to CNN recently.

Soon after he posted the message, he was accused of rumour-mongering by the Wuhan police. He was one of several medics targeted by the police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak.

China’s coronavirus death toll rises to 563, over 28000 cases confirmed

BEIJING, Feb 6: The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus outbreak went up to 563 as 73 people died on Wednesday, the highest one-day fatalities so far, while total confirmed cases rose sharply to 28,018, Chinese health officials said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 73 people died due to the virus and the new confirmed cases of the epidemic went up by 3,694, the country’s National Health Commission announced.

Overall 563 people have died in the country due to the virus so far and 28,018 confirmed cases have been reported from 31 provincial-level regions, the Commission said.

Among the deceased, 70 were from Hubei Province and its provincial Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

Tianjin, Heilongjiang and Guizhou provinces registered one death each, the Commission said.

Another 5,328 new suspected cases were reported on Wednesday of which 2,987 are in Hubei.

Also on Wednesday, 640 patients became seriously ill and 3,859 remained in severe condition, the commission said. As the virus is transmitted from human-to-human, over 2.82 lakh close contacts of the patients have been traced, with over 1.86 lakh others still under medical observation. By the end of Wednesday, 21 confirmed cases had been reported from Hong Kong, 10 in the Macao and 11 in Taiwan, the commission said.

The virus cases abroad climbed to 182 on Wednesday. The Philippines reported first death abroad while Hong Kong announced its first casualty on Sunday.

Chinese officials hope the cases will come down in the coming days with more specialised hospitals being set up in Wuhan.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology said that a batch of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, which will be put into clinical trials to test its efficiency on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is expected to arrive in China soon.

Remdesivir has been used to treat Ebola infections abroad, a media report said. So far there is no set treatment to cure the coronavirus cases.

China coronavirus death toll jumps to 361, more than 17,000 now infected

BEIJING, Feb 3: At least 56 people died of the novel Coronavirus on Sunday pushing the death toll from the outbreak to 361, health authorities have said.

The worst hit Hubei province recorded more than 2100 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the central Chinese province to over 16600.

More than 2800 new cases were reported nation-wide.

China now has at least 17205 confirmed cases of the virus across the country.

The new figures come a day after the first death from the virus was recorded outside China, of a Chinese citizen in the Philippines.

Several countries including India have evacuated hundreds of their nationals from Hubei and Wuhan.

Coronavirus-related numbers are set to surge this week as the millions begin their journey back to their places of work though several provincial governments have extended the Lunar New Year (LNY) holidays.

Scientists said the virus can spread from person to person even if someone is not showing the symptoms associated with it like fever and cough.

The incubation period (time of infection to the onset of symptoms) is up to two weeks and people may not know where or when they were infected.

Tens of millions continue to be in a state of lockdown in Hubei in an attempt to contain the spread of the virulent virus.

The spread of the virus has been confirmed in more than two dozen countries since the first cases were reported in a hospital in Wuhan in the last week of December.

Despite the lockdown and preventive measures taken across Hubei since January 23, Huanggang, a city neighbouring epicentre Wuhan recorded a significant increase of confirmed coronavirus cases, expected to be over 1,000 on Sunday and Monday.

“Authorities in Hubei reported on Sunday morning that there has been an increase of 1,921 new cases of infection on Saturday in the province, and Huanggang remained the second worst affected area regarding confirmed cases, as much of its 7.5 million population are outbound workers,” the tabloid Global Times reported.

“Ahead of Wuhan’s lockdown on January 23, about 600,000 to 700,000 people have returned to Huanggang, such massive migration made implementation of disease prevention and control measures more challenging, according to local official,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has 96% concordance with a bat-borne coronavirus, officials from Hubei have said.

Bats were among the wildlife being traded at the seafood and meat market in Wuhan where the virus is likely to have jumped from an animal to a human.

Medics from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) will from Monday begin admitting patients to the new 1000-bed hospital built in nine days to treat those infected with the novel Coronavirus in Wuhan.

The new facility built in record time has 1,000 beds in 419 wards, including 30 intensive care units.

It was completed by more than 7,000 workers.

“At the peak of the massive project, more than 4,000 workers and about 1,000 construction machines and trucks worked on the site,” the state-run, China Daily newspaper said in a report Sunday evening.

3 Cases Of Coronavirus In Kerala; All Students Who Returned From China

Thiruvananthapuram/ New Delhi, Feb 3: India's third case of coronavirus was reported in Kerala this morning after the southern state reported country's first two cases of the infectious diseases in the last four days. All three patients are students who returned from China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak, last month.

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China and spread to more than 20 countries across the world in the last few weeks, has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

"Third positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, has been reported in Kerala. The patient has a travel history from Wuhan in China. The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital. The patient is stable and is being closely monitored," Union Health Ministry said today in a statement.

"The patient is under treatment at the Kanjangad District Hospital in Kasaragod," Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said this morning. "There is nothing to panic. The health officials led by district medical officials are tracking surveillance efforts. Contract tracing for confirmed cases is underway," she added.

All three coronavirus cases have been reported in different parts of the state. While Kasaragod district is in north Kerala, the first case was reported on January 30 in central Kerala's Thrissur. On Sunday, the central government reported second case of the infectious disease in southern part of the state - Alappuzha.

Over 2,000 people are under surveillance at their homes in Kerala for possible exposure to the virus. Seventy people are being monitored in isolation wards across the state. The first patient confirmed for the infection has shown consistent improvement, state health officials said as they urged people travelling from China to report to the health department.

The Union Health Ministry had also asked people who have a travel history to China since January 1 to report at the nearest health facility if they experienced any symptoms such as fever, cough or breathing trouble. Over 52,000 passengers from 326 flights have been screened for novel coronavirus at various airports across the country till Saturday, according to the government. Ninety-seven symptomatic travelers have been referred to isolation facilities, officials said.

More than 600 Indians were evacuated from Wuhan over the weekend in two batches. The government said today that six Indians including a 22-year-old woman from Kurnool were not evacuated, the government said today, adding that efforts are being made to bring them back.

On Sunday, the central government suspended online visa facility for China that has plunged into isolation over deepening health crisis. "Due to certain current developments, travel to India on e-visas stands temporarily suspended with immediate effect," the Indian Embassy announced in Beijing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "personally monitoring it the situation," Union minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday. "I am also in touch with the Kerala health minister on a regular basis," he added.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a number of illnesses, ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The common symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the patient can suffer from pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Coronavirus-hit China now reports H5N1 outbreak in Hunan province, culls 18,000 chickens

BEIJING, Feb 3: After a deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Chinese authorities have now confirmed a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N1 bird flu in Hunan province.

Almost 18,000 chickens have been culled in Shaoyang city in the southern province of Hunan as a result of the outbreak, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement. The avian flu has not been reported in humans so far.

Of the 7,850 chickens on the farm where the outbreak has occurred, 4,500 had died of the H5N1 avian flu.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), H5N1 can be transmitted to humans via contact with infected live or dead birds. The agency, however, says the virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual.

Hunan is about 400 km south of Hubei province that has the city of Wuhan, which is the epicentre of coronavirus.

The influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1, can be treated in humans by available antiviral medicines.

WHO says it is still safe to consume hygienically-treated poultry and eggs as the virus is sensitive to heat. Normal cooking temperature (70 deg C) will kill the virus, it states.

Over 75,000 could be infected in Wuhan, major Chinese cities under threat: Lancet study

BEIJING, Jan 31: More than 75000 persons in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel Coronavirus outbreak, could have been infected by the virus, the prestigious medical journal Lancet said Friday, adding that many major cities in the country could also be primed for localised epidemics.

“New modelling research, published in The Lancet, estimates that up to 75,800 individuals in the Chinese city of Wuhan may have been infected with 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as of January 25, 2020,” the publication said in the latest study unveiled late on Friday.

The modelling study suggested that “…multiple major Chinese cities might have already imported dozens of cases of 2019-nCoV infection from Wuhan, in numbers sufficient to initiate local epidemics”.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Hong Kong.

It estimates that in the early stages of the Wuhan outbreak-- from December 1, 2019 to January 25, 2020-- each person infected with 2019-nCoV could have infected up to 2-3 other individuals on average, and that the epidemic doubled in size every 6.4 days. “During this period, up to 75,815 individuals could have been infected in Wuhan,” it says.

“Additionally, estimates suggest that cases of 2019-nCoV infection may have spread from Wuhan to multiple other major Chinese cities as of January 25, including Guangzhou (111 cases), Beijing (113), Shanghai (98), and Shenzhen (80). Together these cities account for over half of all outbound international air travel from China,” the study added.

Lead author Professor Joseph Wu from the University of Hong Kong said if the transmissibility of the virus is similar nationally, then it is possible that epidemics could be already growing in multiple major Chinese cities with a time lag of one to two weeks behind the Wuhan outbreak.

Wu said some large cities outside China could also become outbreak epicentres.

“Large cities overseas with close transport links to China could potentially also become outbreak epicentres because of the substantial spread of pre-symptomatic cases unless substantial public health interventions at both the population and personal levels are implemented immediately.”

The authors also pointed out the limitations of the study.

The accuracy of the estimates depends on their assumption about the “zoonotic” (animal to human transmission) source of infection in Wuhan.

They highlighted that their models assume travel behaviour of the people was not affected by disease status and that all infections eventually have symptoms—so it is possible that milder cases may have gone undetected which could underestimate the size of the outbreak.

 

 


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Over 75,000 could be infected in Wuhan, major Chinese cities under threat: Lancet study

I’m more useful here: French doctor stays put in virus-hit Wuhan

WHO declares coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern

 


 
         
   

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