WUHAN – The death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 2,000 on Wednesday (Feb 19) after 132 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak.
In its daily update, the province’s health commission also reported 1,693 new cases of people infected with the virus.
With the latest figures, the total number of cases in Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, is 61,682.
The number of new cases on Tuesday was the lowest since Feb 11 and the second consecutive day below 2,000.
Most of the new deaths on Tuesday were in Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. Wuhan reported 116 new deaths, up from 72 on Monday. A total of 1,497 people in Wuhan have now died from the virus. New confirmed cases in Wuhan stood at 1,660, up from 1,600 on Monday.
Hubei will adopt more thorough and forceful measures to find patients with fever to further help contain the new coronavirus epidemic, the state media reported on Tuesday.
The province will check records of all fever patients who have visited doctors since Jan 20, and people who have bought over-the-counter cough and fever medications at both brick-and-mortar and online drug stores, Xinhua reported, citing a notice by the province’s epidemic control headquarters.
According to a study by Chinese researchers, most people infected by the new coronavirus in China have mild symptoms, with older patients and those with underlying conditions most at risk from the disease.
A paper published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology looked at 72,314 confirmed, suspected, clinically diagnosed, and asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 illness across China as of Feb 11.
Some 80.9 per cent of infections are classified as mild, 13.8 per cent as severe and only 4.7 per cent as critical.
The highest fatality rate is for people aged 80 and older, at 14.8 per cent.
The study finds that patients with cardiovascular disease are most likely to die of complications from the coronavirus, followed by patients with diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension.
Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the EU warned on Tuesday that travel restrictions imposed on China over its virus outbreak are only fuelling “panic” and threatening attempts to resume business.
Envoy Zhang Ming also told a media conference in Brussels that a US ban on non-American travellers from China could imperil a “phase one” trade deal signed last month.
“The impact of the epidemic on the global economy largely depends on global response. I wish to emphasise that the only thing to fear is fear itself, not the virus,” Zhang said.
“WHO does not recommend travel or trade restrictions on China. Such restrictions would add to panic and disrupt the containment efforts.”
Zhang pointed to Chinese government figures suggesting the coronavirus epidemic might be slowing to say that the economic impact from the disease was expected to be only shallow.
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