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It’s Official. The World Has Surpassed 50 Million Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

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There are over 50 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

With about 10 million cases, the United States is the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases, followed immediately by India and Brazil. At least 230,000 people have died from the disease in the United States.

 

The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.

The coronavirus has killed more Americans than every war US troops have died in since 1945 combined, Business Insider’s John Haltiwanger reported. The leading cause of death for Americans, heart disease, typically kills fewer than 650,000 people a year in the US.

The pandemic has created uncertainty and instability, leading to roiled marketsshuttering many small businesses nationwide, and forcing the world to adapt to a new normal.

For nearly nine months, people have been learning to live under once unfamiliar laws and recommendations from health officials. Quarantining, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks have become the relative norm in most countries.

But as the numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, health officials say practices will remain the new norm well into 2021 and possibly 2022.

Meanwhile, scientists and pharmaceutical companies have been racing to create a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

But it will take more time to release safe and effective shots – and even longer to inoculate enough of the global population to achieve herd immunity.

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COVID-19 Reinfection Cases Raise Concern About Sustained Immunity to The Virus

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COVID-19 patients may experience more severe symptoms the second time they are infected, according to research released Tuesday confirming it is possible to catch the potentially deadly disease more than once.

 

A study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal charts the first confirmed case of COVID-19 reinfection in the United States – the country worst hit by the pandemic – and indicates that exposure to the virus may not guarantee future immunity.

The patient, a 25-year-old Nevada man, was infected with two distinct variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within a 48-day time frame.

The second infection was more severe than the first, resulting in the patient being hospitalised with oxygen support.

The paper noted four other cases of reinfection confirmed globally, with one patient each in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Ecuador.

Experts said the prospect of reinfection could have a profound impact on how the world battles through the pandemic.

In particular, it could influence the hunt for a vaccine – the currently Holy Grail of pharmaceutical research.

“The possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of COVID-19 immunity, especially in the absence of an effective vaccine,” said Mark Pandori, for the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory and senior study author.

“We need more research to understand how long immunity may last for people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and why some of these second infections, while rare, are presenting as more severe.”

 

Waning immunity?

Vaccines work by triggering the body’s natural immune response to a certain pathogen, arming it with antibodies it to fight off future waves of infection.

But it is not at all clear how long COVID-19 antibodies last.

For some diseases, such as measles, infection confers lifelong immunity. For other pathogens, immunity may be fleeting at best.

The authors said the US patient could have been exposed to a very high dose of the virus the second time around, triggering a more acute reaction.

Alternatively, it may have been a more virulent strain of the virus.

Another hypothesis is a mechanism known as antibody dependent enhancement — that is, when antibodies actually make subsequent infections worse, such as with dengue fever.

The researchers pointed out that reinfection of any kind remains rare, with only a handful of confirmed cases out of tens of millions of COVID-19 infections globally.

However, since many cases are asymptomatic and therefore unlikely to have tested positive initially, it may be impossible to know if a given COVID-19 case is the first or second infection.

 

In a linked comment to The Lancet paper, Akiko Iwasaka, a professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, said the findings could impact public health measures.

“As more cases of reinfection surface, the scientific community will have the opportunity to understand better the correlates of protection and how frequently natural infections with SARS-CoV-2 induce that level of immunity,” she said.

“This information is key to understanding which vaccines are capable of crossing that threshold to confer individual and herd immunity,” added Iwasaka, who was not involved in the study.

© Agence France-Presse



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The US Death Rate From The Coronavirus Is 49 Times Higher Than The Flu

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Though some symptoms of the flu and the coronavirus overlap, comparing the death rates of the two shows just how much worse the coronavirus is.

While about 0.1 percent of people who got the flu died in the US last year, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus’ death rate is currently about 4.9 percent, based on the reported totals of cases and deaths. That makes the coronavirus’ average death rate 49 times higher than that of the flu.

 

Death rates of both the flu and the coronavirus vary widely between age groups, and both seem to be most fatal among people over 65.

The chart below shows how they compare.

(Ruobing Su/Business Insider)(Ruobing Su/Business Insider)

Although the breakdown reveals that a smaller percentage of infected people from 50-64 years old have died of COVID-19 relative to most other age groups, that bracket represents the highest share of confirmed cases overall (more than 475,000).

Globally, coronavirus cases have topped 9 million and more than 469,000 people have died. So no, this new disease isn’t “just another flu.”

The flu infects millions of people every year and kills thousands

The number of people killed by influenza each year isn’t reported the same way that COVID-19 deaths are – a discrepancy that can cause confusion when comparing the numbers.

The CDC estimates the total number of flu infections in the US via its influenza-surveillance system, which gathers data from state and local partners and projects nationwide totals using infectious-disease models.

The estimations are meant to account for flu deaths that occur outside hospitals and other circumstances in which a person dies without getting a flu test. For that reason, the totals can lag by up to two years because it takes CDC researchers a while to collect flu data and look through death certificates.

 

During the 2018-19 flu season, about 35 million people in the US contracted the flu and about 34,000 died, according to the CDC. In that season, about one out of every 1,000 people who got the flu died.

Breaking down the numbers by age range reveals a more complex story. Among children, there was about one death per every 10,000 cases. For adults between 50 and 64 years old, about six out of every 10,000 people who got the flu died. For those 65 and older, the rate rose to about 83 out of 10,000 people.

The flu’s death rate varies depending on the strains circulating each year. The flu virus mutates rapidly, so people catch different strains, which is why the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective and new vaccines are needed every year.

Over 30 percent of US coronavirus patients over 85 have died

Because of the newness of the coronavirus, calculations of the disease’s death rate come from dividing the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths by the total of confirmed cases. The numbers in the chart above come from the CDC’s most recent June report.

In the US, the coronavirus has infected more than 2.3 million people since the first case was reported on January 22. But that case total likely far undercounts the true scope of the outbreak because it includes only those who have gotten tested.

 

Preliminary data on excess deaths and frontline observations from funeral directors and emergency responders in New York City suggest that the US is undercounting deaths from the virus as well.

The coronavirus’ death rate changes constantly, and many health experts have predicted that the rate could drop if more mild and asymptomatic cases are tested and confirmed.

A trend that is unlikely to change with more robust testing, however, is the degree to which the coronavirus is especially deadly for older people and those with preexisting health problems. Because the virus primarily spreads via droplets when people are in close contact and is most fatal for people over 80, nursing homes have become dangerous breeding grounds.

Stopping the flu and the coronavirus from spreading

The flu and coronavirus spread in the same way: via viral particles that travel between people in tiny droplets of saliva or mucus. If a sick person sneezes, coughs, or speaks loudly within 5 feet of someone healthy, the particles could land on the healthy person; if the particles enter the person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, the person can become infected.

An average coronavirus patient infects two to 2.5 others. That also makes COVID-19 more contagious than the seasonal flu.

Social distancing limits the risk of infection, however, as does proper hand-washing and avoiding touching your face. A growing body of research also shows masks can significantly prevent coronavirus transmission.

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Hydroxychloroquine Does Not Protect Against COVID-19, Clinical Trial Suggests

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Taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not help prevent infection in a statistically meaningful way, scientists reported Wednesday following a clinical trial.

 

The medicine has been touted by US President Donald Trump, who has said he used it as a prophylaxis against the novel coronavirus.

But an experiment involving 821 people across the United States and Canada showed it did not work significantly better than a placebo for this purpose.

The study was led by a team at the University of Minnesota, and their paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers enrolled adults who had come into contact with someone who had a confirmed case of COVID-19 for more than 10 minutes at a distance of six feet (about two meters) or less.

The majority of them  719  were deemed to have had “high-risk” exposure because they wore neither a face mask nor an eye shield at the time, while the rest were “moderate-risk” because they covered their face but did not have goggles.

All participants were randomly assigned to receive either hydroxychloroquine  which is certified for use against malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus  or a placebo, within four days.

The researchers then looked at how many patients went on to develop COVID-19 over the next two weeks, which was confirmed either by a laboratory test or by clinical signs.

 

They found that 49 of the 414 given the medicine got the disease caused by the coronavirus, compared to 58 of the 407 on the placebo.

This translates to 11.83 percent on the drug were infected, versus 14.25 percent on the placebo.

The absolute difference of about 2.4 percentage points in favor of the medicine was not considered statistically significant given the sample size, meaning it could have occurred because of chance.

Side effects were more common with hydroxychloroquine than with the placebo  40.1 percent versus 16.8 percent  but no serious adverse reactions were reported.

“This randomized trial did not demonstrate a significant benefit of hydroxychloroquine as postexposure prophylaxis for COVID-19,” wrote the authors.

The results of the study were eagerly awaited because it was a randomized controlled trial (RCT), a carefully designed experiment that is considered the gold standard for investigating clinical outcomes.

Several previous studies on the drug that have made headlines were “observational,” meaning they looked back at what had already happened. As such, more variables are left to chance and it is generally harder to draw firm conclusions.

Nevertheless, Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Oxford, said more research was needed to know for sure whether hydroxychloroquine might have a moderately positive effect.

“The study is too small to be definitive,” said Landray, who was not involved in the trial.

The results “makes it very unlikely that there is a large effect (e.g. a halving in the risk of infection) but cannot rule out a more modest difference (e.g. a reduction of one-quarter or one-third) which would still be very valuable,” he added.

© Agence France-Presse

 



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USA Now Has More COVID-19 Cases Than Any Other Country in The World

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Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US have topped the totals in China and Italy, making the US the centre of the global outbreak.

In the US, confirmed cases hit 82,404 on Thursday evening, surpassing China’s 81,782 and Italy’s 80,589. The total number of confirmed cases globally is 526,044, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 

Since the US reported its first coronavirus case on January 20, more than 1,100 people in the country have died from the disease. The death tolls in Italy and China are higher.

Many of the new cases in the US are in major cities, like New York and New Orleans, where densely packed residents help the virus spread. Mayors and governors have said that patients with the virus could overwhelm hospitals, which would contribute to a rising death count.

To halt the virus’ spread, people in many US cities and states are under some form of lockdown order. People are supposed to leave their homes only to go grocery shopping and take care of other essential activities.

According to data from Worldometer, coronavirus cases peaked in China in mid-February. The country combated the virus with strict quarantine measures covering 60 million people in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated.

Life is returning to normal in China, but the US has a long road ahead, and the economic fallout from the widespread shutdowns has affected millions of workers and companies.

 

US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 totalled 3.28 million, the Labour Department reported Thursday, exceeding the consensus analyst forecast of 1.5 million.

That was up from 281,000 in the previous week, which already marked a two-year high, Business Insider’s Carmen Reinicke reported.

There are early signs that the shutdowns are helping.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the aggressive social-distancing measures put in place in the state were starting to slow the virus’ spread.

New York is the centre of the US outbreak, with nearly half the country’s cases.

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France Closes Louvre as Coronavirus Cases Mount in Europe And Beyond

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France’s famed Louvre museum closed Sunday as coronavirus cases mounted across Europe and beyond, with the global death toll nearing 3,000.

The virus has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to more than 60 countries around the world, well beyond the epicentre in China where it first emerged late last year.

 

It has rattled global markets and prompted unprecedented measures from governments scrambling to contain the outbreak, which the World Health Organisation has warned could become a pandemic.

The United States and Australia marked grim milestones over the weekend with their first coronavirus fatalities, while China reported 573 new infections Sunday, the highest figure in a week after a dip.

While the numbers in China are still far lower than the huge daily increases reported during the first two weeks of February, COVID-19 has spread rapidly across borders, with South Korea, Italy, and Iran emerging as hotspots.

The Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, was shuttered Sunday after staff refused to open the museum over coronavirus fears.

Some tourists turning up Sunday afternoon complained they had booked their tickets that same morning with no warning of the closure.

France, which has 130 confirmed cases and two deaths from COVID-19, said it would ban gatherings of 5,000 people or more, closing schools and cancelling religious services in some of the hardest-hit zones. Sunday’s half-marathon in Paris was cancelled.

Two confirmed cases in France on Sunday were children, aged one and five, and their 27-year-old mother in the eastern city of Strasbourg. No children under 10 years old are reported to have died from the virus.

 

In recent days, the epidemic has spread to sub-Saharan Africa, while Armenia and the Czech Republic reported their first cases on Sunday, and cases in Germany doubled.

Qatar, Ecuador, Luxembourg, and Ireland all confirmed their first cases on Saturday as the virus continued its global march beyond China’s borders.

Markets tumble

Fears are mounting that the disease could hammer the global economy.

Stock markets in the oil-rich Gulf states plunged Sunday after global bourses were battered last week, diving to their lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis.

China’s economy has also been hit as factories have shut and millions of people stayed home after the government imposed lockdown measures across entire swathes of the country.

Europe’s hardest hit country Italy said Sunday it would deliver 3.6 billion euros (US$4 million) in emergency aid to sectors affected by the virus.

Italy clocked a spike in new cases Saturday, bringing the total number of infections to above 1,000, with 29 deaths.

The outbreak also forced the postponement of five matches in Italy’s top-flight Serie A football league, including the heavyweight clash between champions Juventus and Inter Milan.

The season-opening Qatar MotoGP, scheduled for March 8, was cancelled, organisers said.

 

Pence defends US response to virus

Australia reported the first death on its soil – a 78-year-old man evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

On Saturday, the US also announced its first coronavirus death, though US President Donald Trump insisted the country was prepared and called for calm.

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence defended the US administration from criticism that it had been slow to react to the threat of the virus, crediting Trump with having acted quickly to quarantine Americans brought back from China and Japan.

Officials also announced a possible outbreak in a Washington state nursing home, where a health worker and a resident in her 70s were both confirmed sick with the virus.

Other residents and staff were “ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalised with pneumonia of unknown cause”, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The death and two confirmed Washington cases all involved patients who had not travelled overseas or come in contact with anyone known to be ill, indicating that the virus was spreading in the US.

 

“We will see more cases,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said at the White House.

“But it’s important to remember, for the vast majority of individuals who contract the novel coronavirus, they will experience mild to moderate symptoms.”

Risk factors

China on Sunday reported 573 new infections, the highest figure in a week after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.

Despite the increase, China said its response to the epidemic “continues to be good” though risks remained.

“The next step is to focus on the risks brought by the resumption of work and the increasing number of foreign cases,” said Mi Feng, spokesman at the National Health Commission.

In nearby South Korea, the epidemic is centred in its fourth-largest city, Daegu, whose streets have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale.

The total in South Korea is expected to rise further as authorities screen more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive entity often accused of being a cult that is linked to around half of the country’s cases.

Iran, one of the worst affected countries in the world, said Sunday it had 978 infections and 54 deaths.

Several countries banned travel to and from Iran as its cases quickly mounted over the past week.

© Agence France-Presse

 



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New Research Estimates 75,000 People in Wuhan Are Infected With Coronavirus

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More than 75,000 people – ten times the official tally of confirmed cases – have been infected with the coronavirus in Wuhan, ground zero of a global health emergency, according to research published Friday.

 

“We estimate that 75,815 individuals have been infected in Wuhan as of January 25, 2020,” a team led by Gabriel Leung from the University of Hong Kong reported in The Lancet.

As of January 31, the Chinese government said the number of confirmed cases had risen above 9,700 for all of China, including 213 deaths.

For Hubei Province – including Wuhan, a city in central China of 11 million – the official figure was nearly 6,000 confirmed cases and just over 200 deaths.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global health emergency, but said it was not recommending any international trade or travel restrictions.

“The apparent discrepancy between our modelled estimates of 2019-nCoV infections and the actual number of confirmed cases in Wuhan could be due to several factors,” Leung said in a statement.

A time lag between infection and symptom onset, delays in infected persons getting medical treatment, and the time needed to confirm cases with lab tests “could all affect overall recording and reporting,” he said.

The study found that each person infected with the virus, which emerged in December, could have infected two to three individuals on average, and that the epidemic had doubled in size every 6.4 days.

 

If the virus spreads as quickly on a national scale, “it is possible that epidemics could be already growing in multiple major Chinese cities, with a time lag of one to two weeks behind Wuhan,” said co-author Joseph Wu, a professor at the University of Hong Kong.

“Large cities overseas with close transport links to China could potentially also become outbreak epicentres.”

If the new estimate of cases is accurate, it would mean that the mortality rate of the 2019-nCoV virus is significantly lower than preliminary figures suggested, with well under one percent of cases proving deadly.

But a low mortality rate can still result in a large number of deaths if the virus spread widely.

The seasonal flu, for example, kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the United States, the mortality rate among people infected with influenza is 0.13 percent, the Centers for Disease Control has calculated.

2019-nCoV is part of the coronavirus family, which was the source of two previous deadly epidemics.

The 2002/03 SARS outbreak (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) started in Guangdong Province and killed 774 people out of a total 8,096 infected. The 2012 MERS outbreak (Middle East respiratory syndrome) killed 858 people out of the 2,494 infected.

The respective mortality rates for SARS and MERS patients was 9.5 and 34.5 percent, far higher than for the new coronavirus.

© Agence France-Presse

 



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Here Are The Symptoms of The Wuhan Coronavirus, According to a New CDC Warning

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The deadly Wuhan coronavirus, officially called 2019-nCoV, has killed 17 people and infected at least 554 others in China as of Wednesday. The US confirmed its first case, a man in his 30s in Washington state who had visited China, on Tuesday.

 

Scientists are still scrambling to fully understand the virus, which they confirmed this week could be passed from human to human.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidance for healthcare professionals on the symptoms of the virus.

Wuhan virus outbreak map of China(Ruobing Su/Business Insider)

What to look out for

According to the CDC, a person could be at risk if they have:

  • Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, after travelling to Wuhan or having close contact with someone who was ill and is now under investigation for the virus in the past two weeks.
  • Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness after having close contact in the past two weeks with someone who’s been confirmed to have the virus.

The CDC defined “close contact” as being within about 6 feet (1.8 m) “or within the room or care area” of a person with the coronavirus for a prolonged period without appropriate protective clothing, or “having direct contact with infectious secretions” of a person with the virus without protective clothing.

 

The agency said close contact could include “caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room” with a person with the virus.

The CDC said that if you have travelled to Wuhan recently and feel any of these symptoms, you should “seek medical care right away,” call ahead to tell your doctor about your travel and symptoms, and avoid contact with other people.

People in the US who meet these criteria should be evaluated for the virus and their case reported to their state health department, it added.

Who is at most risk?

Coronaviruses like 2019-nCoV are particularly dangerous for people who have weaker immune systems, like young children and older adults.

There are no vaccines to protect people from contracting a coronavirus. Pets are also at risk of catching coronaviruses, which can lead to disease and even death.

The source of the Wuhan virus outbreak was identified as a market that sold seafood and live animals like wolves and civet cats. The Chinese government closed the market on January 1.

 

How to protect yourself

Here are the CDC’s and other healthcare experts’ suggestions for how to protect yourself from the virus while travelling:

  • Try to avoid contact with people who display symptoms similar to those of pneumonia or the common cold, like coughing or a runny nose.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when possible.
  • Avoid animals and animal markets.

The World Health Organisation is set to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday on whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency.

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The ‘Novel Coronavirus’ Outbreak Has Officially Reached The United States

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The United States on Tuesday announced its first case of a new virus that has claimed six lives in China and sickened hundreds, joining countries around the world in ramping up measures to block its spread.

 

The man, a US resident in his 30s who lives near Seattle, is in good condition, according to federal and state officials, and approached authorities himself after reading about the SARS-like virus in news reports.

He is “currently hospitalized out of an abundance of precaution, and for short term monitoring, not because there was severe illness,” said Chris Spitters, a Washington state health official.

“This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional patients in the United States and globally,” added Nancy Messonier, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but stressed that the overall risk to Americans remained low.

The man entered the country on January 15 after traveling to Wuhan, two days before the US began deploying health officials at major airports to screen passengers arriving from that central Chinese city which is at the heart of the outbreak.

The efforts are to be extended now to a total of five US airports.

It came as countries ramped up measures to block the spread of the virus – known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV – as the number of cases surpassed 300, raising concerns in the middle of a major Chinese holiday travel rush.

 

Fears of a bigger outbreak rose after a prominent expert from China’s National Health Commission confirmed late Monday that the virus can be passed between people.

That conclusion is shared by the CDC, which said “person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear how easily the virus spreads between people,” even as the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a more cautious approach, saying it is still investigating.

The UN agency will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to determine whether to declare a rare global public health emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in Thailand, Japan and South Korea and Taiwan.

Holiday rush

Authorities previously said there was no obvious evidence of person-to-person transmission and animals were suspected to be the source, as a seafood market where live animals were sold in Wuhan was identified as the center of the outbreak.

Hundreds of millions of people are criss-crossing China this week in packed buses, trains and planes to celebrate the Lunar New Year with relatives.

More than 80 new cases have been confirmed, bringing the total number of people hit by the virus in China to 315, with the vast majority in Hubei, the province where Wuhan lies, according to officials.

 

But cases have also been confirmed around the country, including Beijing and Shanghai.

The first case on the self-ruled island of Taiwan was also confirmed Tuesday, with a woman taken to hospital on arrival at the airport from Wuhan.

Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV Tuesday that the death toll had risen from four to six.

The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Fever checks

At four airports in Thailand, authorities introduced mandatory thermal scans of passengers arriving from high-risk areas of China.

In Hong Kong, authorities said they were on “extreme high alert,” with passengers from Wuhan required to fill out health declarations and face possible jail time if they do not declare symptoms.

Enhanced screening measures have also been set up at airports in Australia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore and Russia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

A man showing symptoms of the disease who had travelled to Wuhan has been put in isolation in Australia as health officials await test results, authorities said Tuesday.

 

In China, the government announced it was classifying the outbreak in the same category as SARS, meaning compulsory isolation for those diagnosed with the disease and the potential to implement quarantine measures on travel.

In Wuhan, authorities banned tour groups and police were conducting spot checks for animals in vehicles leaving and entering the city, state media said.

It added that city health authorities had scheduled 800 beds to be made available in three hospitals and 1,200 more would soon be ready, and passengers were being screened for fever at the airport, railway stations and bus terminals.

Doctors at the University of Hong Kong released a study on Tuesday estimating that there have been 1,343 cases of the new virus in Wuhan.

The WHO has only called a global public health emergency a handful of times, including during the H1N1 – or swine flu – pandemic of 2009 and the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016.

© Agence France-Presse

 



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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About The Coronavirus Spreading From China

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A new coronavirus, a mysterious SARS-like disease, has spread around China and three other Asian countries since first emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

A timeline:

 

Alarm raised

The World Health Organization (WHO) is alerted on 31 December 2019, by the Chinese authorities of a string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

Patients are quarantined and work begins on identifying the origin of the pneumonia.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies a seafood market suspected to be at the centre of the outbreak. It is closed on 1 January 2020.

New coronavirus

On January 9, the WHO says that the outbreak in Wuhan was caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus, which is a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

To date 59 people have been infected of whom seven are in a serious condition, according to an official toll.

First death

The Chinese health authorities say a first person has died of the virus on January 11.

They revise downwards the number of sick people to 41.

Spreads beyond China

On January 13, the virus spreads beyond China’s borders for the first time with a case emerging in Thailand, according to the WHO. The victim is a Chinese woman diagnosed with mild pneumonia who was returning from a trip to Wuhan.

On January 15 China’s health commission says no human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far, but the possibility “cannot be excluded”.

The next day a first case of the virus is confirmed in Japan in someone who had stayed in Wuhan in early January.

 

US controls

On January 17, a second person, a 69-year-old man, dies in Wuhan, according to the authorities.

The same day, the CDC announces that it will begin screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three airports: San Francisco, New York’s JFK and Los Angeles.

Human to human transmission confirmed

On January 20, a third death and more than 100 new cases are announced in China, sparking concerns ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday which begins January 25 and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel nationwide.

The virus is present in Beijing in the north, Shanghai in the east and Shenzhen in the south. More than 200 cases have been recorded. The virus is also detected in South Korea in a Chinese person who has arrived by plane from Wuhan.

China’s President Xi Jinping says that the virus must be “resolutely contained”, in his first public comments on the outbreak.

Human-to-human transmission is “affirmative”, a top Chinese expert on infectious diseases Zhong Nanshan tells state broadcaster CCTV.

© Agence France-Presse

 



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