Virus now more deadly than SARS
MAINLAND CHINA: DEATH TOLL STILL ON THE RISE
World Health Organisation says outbreak has started to stabilise.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus surged past 800 in mainland China yesterday, overtaking global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, even as the World Health Organisation said the outbreak appeared to be stabilising.
With 89 more people dying – most in Hubei, the province at the centre of the outbreak – the toll is now higher than the 774 killed worldwide by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to figures from national health authorities.
The latest data came after the WHO said the last four days had seen “some stabilising” in Hubei, but warned the figures can still “shoot up”.
Almost 37 200 people in China have now been infected by the virus, believed to have emerged late last year in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, where residents are struggling to get daily supplies because of sweeping transport restrictions and instructions to stay inside.
The epidemic has prompted the government to lock down whole cities as anger mounts over its handling of the crisis – especially after a whistleblowing doctor fell victim to the virus.
With much of the country still not back at work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, cities including financial hub Shanghai ordered residents to wear masks in public.
Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the “stable period” of the outbreak “may reflect the impact of the control measures that have been put in place”.
While the death toll has climbed steadily, new cases per day have declined since Wednesday’s single-day peak of nearly 3 900 people nationwide.
Yesterday, the number of new cases was just over 2 600.
Millions of people are under lockdown in Hubei in a bid to stop the virus spreading. Melissa Santos, a student from the Dominican Republic living in Wuhan, said she planned to go out to buy food for the first time in a week.
“I am a bit worried,” she said. “I have read that the virus can be transmitted very fast, in a few seconds.”
China drew international condemnation for covering up cases during the SARS outbreak, whereas the measures it has taken this time have been praised by the WHO.
But anger erupted on social media after the death of a Wuhan doctor who police silenced when he flagged the threat of an emerging virus in December. – AFP
I have read the virus can be transmitted in a few seconds
TAKING NO CHANCES. Medical workers wearing protective clothing check passengers’ travel history at the Shanghai South railway station in Shanghai yesterday.