Death toll crosses 900, surpasses SARS and MERS

New Delhi: The death toll in China due to novel coronavirus epidemic has gone up to 908 and the number of confirmed cases rose over 40,000, Chinese health officials said on Monday. There were 97 deaths and 3,062 new confirmed cases of the lethal infection on Sunday, China’s National Health Commission said. Ninety-one deaths were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, two in Anhui, and one each in Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Hainan and Gansu, according to the commission.

A total of 908 people have died of the disease and 40,171 confirmed cases of the outbreak were reported in 31 provincial-level regions so far, it said. Another 4,008 new suspected cases were reported on Sunday. Moreover, 296 patients became seriously ill, the commission said, adding that 6,484 patients remained in severe condition and 23,589 people were suspected of being infected with the virus. A total of 3,281 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery. The commission said 3.99 lakh close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 29,307 were discharged from medical observation on Sunday, with 1.87 lakh still under medical observation. By the end of Sunday, 36 confirmed cases, including one death, had been reported in Hong Kong, 10 confirmed cases in Macao and 18 in Taiwan. Overseas, over 300 cases of coronavirus have been reported, including from three from Kerala.

Meanwhile, millions of people have started returning to Beijing and other cities in China after the extended holiday of China’s New Year. The holidays, which began on January 24 and were due to end on February 3, has been extended till February 9 as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the virus. However, the employees of most of the offices have been asked to work from home. As the biggest reverse migration began, Chinese officials said on Saturday that the cases of the deadly infection had started declining for the first time after weeks of sharp rise. China’s new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus outside Hubei has been dropping for six consecutive days, according to the commission. A total of 444 new confirmed cases were reported on Sunday outside Hubei, the data showed. The numbers of new confirmed cases in these provinces during the past days were 890 on Monday, 731 on Tuesday, 707 on Wednesday, 696 on Thursday, 558 on Friday and 509 on Saturday, the commission said.

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday that the UN health agency would send an international mission to China as it received a response from Beijing. WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team leader would leave early next week with the rest of the experts to follow. The UN health agency said the number of cases of the coronavirus in China was “stabilising”, which is a “good news”. It, however, cautioned that it was too early to make any predictions about whether the virus might have peaked. “There has been a stabilisation in the number of cases reported from Hubei,” Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme said at a briefing in Geneva. “We’re in a four-day stable period where the number of reported cases hasn’t advanced. That’s good news and may reflect the impact of the control measures that have been put in place,” Ryan was quoted as saying. But he added that it was “very early to make any predictions”.

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