WUHAN – The death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,800 on Tuesday (Feb 18) after 93 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak.
In its daily update, the province’s health commission also reported 1,807 new cases, a decline on the number of new cases reported on Monday.
The latest toll brings the number of deaths in Hubei to 1,789 as of Monday, the commission said on its website on Tuesday.
Most of the new deaths on Monday were in Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. Wuhan reported 72 new deaths, down from 76 on Sunday. A total of 1,381 people in Wuhan have now died from the virus. New confirmed cases in Wuhan stood at 1,600, down from 1,690 on Sunday.
The new cases mean more than 72,300 people have now been affected across the country. Tuesday’s jump in the death toll was also lower than the increase reported on Monday, bringing the national number of deaths to 1,863.
Outside of hardest-hit Hubei, which has been effectively locked down to try to contain the virus, the number of new cases has been slowing and China’s national health authority has said this is a sign the outbreak is under control.
However, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the trend “must be interpreted very cautiously”.
“Trends can change as new populations are affected. It is too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” he told reporters on Monday.
He also warned against “blanket measures” over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a “tiny” proportion of the population.
WHO also said that – with a mortality rate of around 2 per cent – Covid-19 was “less deadly” than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.
“Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help,” Mr Tedros said.
The outbreak has battered manufacturing and tourism across the region and led to multiple travel restrictions including for flights and cruises.
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