SHANGHAI (AFP, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – The number of fatalities from China’s coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,016 nationwide on Tuesday (Feb 11) after hard-hit Hubei province reported 103 new deaths as the number of confirmed cases exceeded 42,600.
In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission also confirmed another 2,097 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.
The province had confirmed a total of 31,728 cases with 974 deaths by the end of Monday, a fatality rate of 3.07 per cent. It said there were still a total of 16,687 suspected cases.The province pledged on Monday to test all those suspected to have the virus within a day.
There are now 42,638 confirmed cases across China.
The new virus is believed to have emerged last year in a market that sells wild animals in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met medical workers and patients affected at a hospital in Beijing on Monday, where he called for “more decisive measures” to contain the outbreak, said state broadcaster CCTV.
An advance team for a World Health Organisation-led international expert mission on the virus arrived in China late on Monday, headed by Dr Bruce Aylward. He oversaw the organisation’s 2014-2016 response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Ahead of the team’s arrival, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there had been some “concerning instances” of cases overseas in people with no travel history to China.
“It could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,” Dr Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
“But for now it is only a spark. Our objective remains containment,” he said, adding that a concerted global effort was needed “to fight this virus before it gets out of control”.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew on board remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, taking the number of confirmed cases from the Carnival Corp-owned vessel to 135.
Britain on Monday recorded a doubling of cases to eight, and the government warned the outbreak of coronavirus was a “serious and imminent threat”.
United States President Donald Trump said he expected the outbreak would disappear in April due to hotter weather, a prognosis at odds with top US health officials.
As scientists race to develop tests and treatments, the WHO says 168 labs globally have the right technology to diagnose the virus. More companies have been struggling to find clinical virus samples to validate the tests they have developed.