China coronavirus toll inches closer to 500; 65 new fatalities

China coronavirus toll inches closer to 500; 65 new fatalities
With 65 new fatalities, while the total number of confirmed cases has gone up to 24,324
BEIJING/Wuhan/Tokyo, FEB 5 (IANS) | Publish Date: 2/5/2020 9:31:15 AM IST

The toll from the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China has climbed to 490, with 65 new fatalities, while the total number of confirmed cases has gone up to 24,324, the Chinese health authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

According to China’s National Health Commission, by the end of Tuesday, a total of 490 people had died after being infected and 24,324 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions.

The dramatic measures taken by China to rein in the deadly new coronavirus outbreak have prevented significant spread abroad, providing a “window of opportunity” to halt transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. Chinese health authorities on Wednesday said it received reports of 3,887 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 65 deaths on Tuesday from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. 

All of the deaths are in Hubei Province, according to China’s National Health Commission, Xinhua news agency reported. 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.

The commission said 2,52,154 close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 18,457 were discharged from medical observation on Tuesday, with 185,555 others still under medical observation.

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

India has also issued a travel advisory urging people not to visit China. The government also temporarily suspended e-visa facilities for Chinese travellers and foreigners residing in China.

Newborn infected in Wuhan

A newborn in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, was confirmed to have been infected with the virus just 30 hours after being born, a local hospital said on Wednesday. 

The infant, born on February 2, is the youngest person recorded as being diagnosed with the virus, Xinhua reported.

The mother had also tested positive for the virus before she gave birth, said the Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Medical experts said it may be a case of mother-to-child transmission of the novel coronavirus. The baby, weighing 3.25 kg at birth, is now in stable condition and under observation.

10 quarantined in Japan

Japan’s health ministry announced on Wednesday that at least 10 among 3,700 passengers on a cruise ship that had passed through Hong Kong and is stationed in quarantine in Yokohama had contracted a coronavirus strain that has killed hundreds.

Japanese authorities said medical tests were performed only on 31 of the approximately 2,700 passengers and 1,000 crew members of the ship and feared the number of infections could increase, Efe news reported. The 10 infected passengers have been hospitalized and none have serious symptoms, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said at a Wednesday news conference.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been moored at Yokohama port since Monday, when Japanese authorities denied it from docking and ordered it be quarantined after confirming one passenger was infected with the coronavirus.

The victim was a man in his 80s from Hong Kong, who disembarked there last week - one of the stops of this cruise that sailed January 20 from Yokohama - and also passed through Okinawa and Kagoshima ports in southwest Japan.

The death toll from the illness caused by the new coronavirus strain - which originated in Wuhan, China - has climbed to 490 and infected 24,324 people, China’s National Health Commission said Wednesday.

Until now, all but one of the deaths - which occurred over the weekend in the Philippines - have occurred in China. Though about 20 countries have confirmed cases, China has accounted for about 99 per cent of infections.

The coronavirus symptoms are similar to those of a cold but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

Japan’s health ministry sent a medical team and quarantine officials on board the cruise Monday and tested 273 crew members and passengers believed to have been in close contact with the Hong Kong citizen, Kato said, adding that they would leave in the next few hours.  The government announced it was looking to expand preventive measures to contain the spread in Japan, where more than 30 cases have been detected, including those of Diamond Princess. Since Saturday, Japan has banned the entry of foreign nationals who have visited Hubei province, whose capital is Wuhan, as well as Chinese citizens whose passports have been issued there. 

The country has considered “expanding the regions” of China whose citizens are temporarily prohibited from entering the country, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a Tuesday parliamentary committee.


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