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Coronavirus: New virus has infected more than 24,500 people globally

By PTI Updated: Feb 05, 2020 10:16 pm
A medical worker in a protective suit writes on a tube after collecting a sample for nucleic acid tests from a suspected virus patient at a hotel being used to place people in medical isolation in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province on Tuesday. (PTI)

Beijing, Feb. 5 (PTI/AP): The death toll in China’s coronavirus outbreak rose to 490 on Tuesday while the total number of confirmed cases mounted to 24324, Chinese health officials announced on Wednesday.

By the end of Tuesday, a total of 490 people had died after being infected and 24,324 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions, China’s National Health Commission reported.

It said 65 deaths were reported on Tuesday, all from Hubei province and its capital Wuhan.

Also 3,887 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection were reported on Tuesday, it said.

Also on Tuesday, 431 patients became seriously ill, while 262 were discharged from hospital after recovery.

The commission added that 3,219 patients remained in severe condition and 23,260 people were suspected of being infected with the virus.

A total of 892 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery, it said.

Over 2.52 lakh who were in close contacts with patients had been traced with over 1.85 lakh others still under medical observation, it added.

By the end of Tuesday, 18 confirmed cases had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), including one death, 10 in the Macao SAR and 11 in Taiwan, it said.

As the novel coronavirus, regarded as the most virulent in recent years, showed no signs of abatement, China has intensified its efforts to contain its spread by opening more hospitals in Hubei province to exclusively treat its patients.

A 1000-bed makeshift hospital was opened on Monday.

Another 1,300-bed hospital is set to be ready on Wednesday. Both will be run by hundreds of military medical personnel.

Authorities in Wuhan on Tuesday said they would build eight more mobile cabin hospitals to treat the patients, China Daily reported.

All the Chinese cities including Beijing have been reporting daily increase in the cases of the virus, which has no cure yet. The virus has now spread to over 20 countries.

The Philippines reported the first overseas death from the virus on Sunday while 176 cases have been reported from abroad so far. India has reported three cases of the coronavirus. All the three patients from Kerala recently returned from the affected Wuhan city.

India on Tuesday further tightened visa rules by cancelling the existing visas for Chinese and foreigners who had visited the country in the last two weeks.

On February 2, India temporarily suspended e-visa facility for Chinese travellers and foreigners residing in China in view of the outbreak.

Currently, 647 Indians and seven Maldivians, who have been evacuated from Wuhan and Hubei are in 14-day quarantine at a medical camp in Manesar, near Delhi.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media here that 16 foreigners in China have been infected with the virus.

She, however, declined to provide details of their nationalities in her Tuesday media briefing, citing privacy concerns. According to reports, those infected included four Pakistanis and two Australians.

Wuhan has thousands of foreigners as it is an education hub. Hundreds of Pakistani have been pleading to their government to evacuate them citing successful evacuation by the Indian government.

China has struggled to contain the virus despite implementing unprecedented measures, including virtually locking down more than 50 million people in Hubei.

While the virus cases increased by the hour, Chinese health officials attributed the spiralling rate of cases and the death toll to shortages of hospitals mainly in Hubei and its provincial capital Wuhan.

Also Chinese officials have converted the national auditorium and gymnasium in Wuhan into a hospital to exclusively treat growing number of coronavirus cases.

WHO issues appeal for USD 675m to fight novel coronavirus

The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for USD 675 million in donations for a plan to fight the novel coronavirus, mainly through investment in countries considered particularly “at risk”.

“Today we’re launching a strategic preparedness and response plan…. We’re requesting USD 675 million to fund the plan for the next three months,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva.

“Our message to the international community is invest today or pay more later,” Tedros said, adding that the funding appeal was “much less than the bill we will have to pay if we do not invest in preparedness now”.

Tedros said USD 60 million of the funds would be for WHO operations while the remainder would go to countries requiring assistance to guard against the deadly virus.

He said WHO was sending 500,000 masks and 40,000 respirators to 24 countries from its warehouses in Dubai and Accra.

Tedros also hailed a USD 100 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced earlier on Wednesday for virus testing, treatment and vaccine research. Asked about Britain’s call for its nationals to leave China, Tedros said: “That blanket approach may not help. We encourage all countries to make decisions based on evidence.” He said an international expert mission being organised by WHO would be leaving for China “very, very soon.”

By PTI Updated: Feb 05, 2020 10:16:58 pm