No sign of peak­ing: Virus deaths at 1,380

Ex­pert says con­tain­ment meau­res too lit­tle, too late as US of­fi­cial hits Bei­jing’s lack of trans­parency

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE -

BEI­JING—A health ex­pert said the COVID-19 out­break was show­ing no sign of peak­ing as China re­ported on Fri­day 5,090 new cases and 121 new deaths, bring­ing the to­tal cases to 63,851 with 1,380 deaths. The ex­pert said that dras­tic mea­sures be­ing im­ple­mented ap­peared to come too lit­tle, too late, while a White House of­fi­cial hit Bei­jing’s “lack of trans­parency” on the out- break.

BEI­JING/SIHANOUKVI­LLE,

CAM­BO­DIA—CHINA’S coro­n­avirus dis­ease 2019 (COVID-19) out­break showed no sign of peak­ing with health au­thor­i­ties on Fri­day re­port­ing more than 5,000 new cases, while pas­sen­gers on a cruise ship blocked from five coun­tries due to virus fears fi­nally dis­em­barked in Cam­bo­dia.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers pledged to do more to stim­u­late Asian economies hit hard by the virus, help­ing Asia stock mar­kets edge higher, with Chi­nese shares headed for their first weekly gain in four.

In its lat­est up­date, China’s Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion said it had recorded 121 new deaths and 5,090 new COVID-19 cases on the main­land on Feb. 13, tak­ing the ac­cu­mu­lated to­tal in­fected to 63,851 people.

Some 55,748 people are cur­rently un­der­go­ing treatment, while 1,380 people have died of the flu-like virus that emerged in Hubei prov­ince’s cap­i­tal, Wuhan, in De­cem­ber. The lat­est toll takes ac­count of some deaths that had been dou­ble counted in Hubei, the health com­mis­sion said.

The new fig­ures give no in­di­ca­tion the out­break is near­ing a peak, said Adam Kam­radt-scott, an in­fec­tious dis­eases ex­pert at the Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

“Based on the cur­rent trend in con­firmed cases, this ap­pears to be a clear in­di­ca­tion that while the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties are do­ing their best to pre­vent the spread of the coro­n­avirus, the fairly dras­tic mea­sures they have im­ple­mented to date would ap­pear to have been too lit­tle, too late,” he said.

China Na­tional Health

Com­mis­sion Vice Min­is­ter Zeng Yixin said on Fri­day that 1,716 health work­ers had been in­fected by COVID-19 and six of them had died as of Tues­day.

Chi­nese of­fi­cials and hos­pi­tals have re­peat­edly noted a short­age of pro­tec­tive equip­ment, in­clud­ing face masks, as the dis­ease took hold in Hubei and spread through­out the coun­try.

Chi­nese sci­en­tists are test­ing two an­tivi­ral drugs and pre­lim­i­nary re­sults are weeks away.

The head of a hos­pi­tal in Wuhan told re­porters on Thurs­day that plasma in­fu­sions from re­cov­ered pa­tients had shown some en­cour­ag­ing pre­lim­i­nary re­sults.

While the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has praised China’s han­dling of the epi­demic in con­trast to its coverup of the SARS out­break in 2002-2003, a top White House of­fi­cial on Thurs­day said Bei­jing should be more open.

“We are a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that we haven’t been in­vited in and we’re a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed in the lack of trans­parency com­ing from the Chi­nese,” Larry Kud­low, the di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Eco­nomic Council, told re­porters.

Kud­low’s com­ments con­trasted with Trump’s ap­par­ent con­fi­dence in China, with the US leader telling a ra­dio show that Xi Jin­ping is “ex­tremely ca­pa­ble” and that the United States was “work­ing with them” and “send­ing a lot of people.

Ja­pan con­firmed its first coro­n­avirus death on Thurs­day—a woman in her 80s liv­ing in Kana­gawa pre­fec­ture near Tokyo. The death was the third out­side main­land China, af­ter two oth­ers in Hong Kong and the Philip­pines.

Ja­panese pol­i­cy­mak­ers vowed to step up test­ing and con­tain­ment ef­forts af­ter the death and confirmati­on of new cases, in­clud­ing a doc­tor and a taxi driver.

A cruise liner quar­an­tined off a Ja­panese port has more than 200 people con­firmed with the dis­ease. Au­thor­i­ties have said they will al­low some el­derly people to dis­em­bark on Fri­day.

Mean­while, the 1,455 pas­sen­gers and 802 crew of the MS Wes­ter­dam that spent two weeks at sea af­ter be­ing turned away by five coun­tries over COVID-19 fears started dis­em­bark­ing at the Cam­bo­dian port in Sihanoukvi­lle on Fri­day af­ter of­fi­cials ex­am­ined pas­sen­gers for any signs of ill health or flu­like symp­toms.

Separately, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said it had can­celed 18 cruises in South­east Asia.

The rise in China’s re­ported cases on Thurs­day re­flected a de­ci­sion by au­thor­i­ties there to re­clas­sify a back­log of sus­pected cases by us­ing pa­tients’ chest im­ages, and did not nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate a wider epi­demic, a World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

—REUTERS

DEAD TIRED A med­i­cal worker takes a break dur­ing her night shift at a com­mu­nity health cen­ter in Wuhan, China, the epi­cen­ter of a deadly coro­n­avirus out­break.

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