Virus now more deadly than SARS


The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

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

Pic­ture: AFP

TAK­ING NO CHANCES. Med­i­cal work­ers wear­ing pro­tec­tive cloth­ing check pas­sen­gers’ travel his­tory at the Shang­hai South rail­way sta­tion in Shang­hai yes­ter­day.

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