Coronavirus death toll in China bounces beyond 500; More numerous cases are recently found on cruise ship off Japan
On Thursday, the civilian death toll from a new coronavirus in mainland China increased by 73 to 563, the third consecutive regular spike, as scientists stepped up efforts to find a disease antidote that had shut down Chinese cities and driven thousands more into quarantine worldwide.
Hubei County, the birthplace of the epidemic, reported 70 new fatalities on Wednesday and 2,987 new deaths reported-more than 80 percent of the Chinese authorities documented overall. The other deaths were in the area of Tianjin, in the southwest of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and Guizhou.
Hubei region in central China has already been in a virtual lockout for almost two weeks, shutting down its train stations and airports and sealing off its highways. The flu-like virus was first detected in Wuhan’s northern province of Hubei and is suspected to have emerged in the region from a seafood market.
Within mainland China, there have been two fatalities in the Philippines and Hong Kong-both committed by people who had been to Wuhan where more than 400 people have been killed.
Lots of tourists were expelled from Wuhan and put in quarantine centers around the world, and thousands of passengers and crew were trapped in Asian waters on two cruise ships.
Ten more passengers on a cruise liner in Yokohama’s Japanese harbor, south of Tokyo, screened for coronavirus positive, the Japanese interior ministry reported, taking the number of cases on board to 20.
Nearly 3,700 people will face evacuated on the ship for at least two weeks after a positive test by an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who flew there late last month.
“We’re hoping the U.S. government will submit transportation on board for the Americans,” said Reuters Gay Courter, a 75-year-old American novelist on board the plane.
“It’s healthier for us to travel health conscious, and also to be allowed to treat in American hospitals if we become sick.”
In Hong Kong, after three people on board had tested positive earlier, 3,600 passengers and crew were confined to their ship docked in the city for testing.
In the United States, about 350 American evacuees from Wuhan were held under evacuation at two California military bases, bringing the total of individuals subject to the U.S. to almost 400. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first isolated for public health throughout 50 years.
“We are at a critical time in the foreign spread of the virus and this action is necessary to try to prevent transmitting it here,” explained Dr. Christopher Braden, executive director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC.
Further, then two dozen carriers have stopped or limited flights to China and several nations, including that of the U.S., have prohibited access to anyone who has been to China for the past two weeks.
Hong Kong announced that all the tourists from mainland China would be quarantined for two weeks, while Taiwan applied to include those from Hong Kong and Macau to travelers who had been to mainland China for the previous 14 days.
SEARCH FOR A TREATMENT
The WHO said hundreds of specialists would meet in Geneva next week, on February 11-12, in an attempt to find a way to combat the epidemic by speeding up studies into medicines and vaccinations. A WHO-led international team would go “very early” to China, it continued.
Speaking regarding rumors of “treatment breakthroughs,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said: “On this 2019-nCoV (virus) there is no known effective therapy.”
Because with only severe symptoms, most people carrying the virus recover quickly, the virus can lead to pneumonia and other severe respiratory diseases. It is still too early to determine what its mortality rate will be, as many forms of milder illness are expected to go completely unnoticed.
China’s National Health Regulator, on Feb. 5, reported another 3,694 cases of coronavirus across the nation, bringing the number to 28,018. It was the first day in more than a week since test rates stabilized that new day-to-day cases in China were back close.
Fitch Ratings also said a similarly large-scale shock to China’s utilities and manufacturing output from SARS – another coronavirus from China that killed an estimated 800 people in a pandemic in 2002-2003 – will cut the first ever-quarter economic growth to around 4% year-on-year, from 6% in the last period.
On Monday nearly $700 billion was wiped off Chinese mainland markets with many factories shut down, communities cut off and transport connections blocked, sparking fears about national economies.
China’s biggest trading partners are also worried about the effect on their economies, especially the tourism and employment industries.
Senior U.S. officials have said that the effects of a new Phase 1 free trade agreement with China could be deferred as a consequence of the outbreak, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said here on Thursday that Australia’s economic impact is likely to be “huge.”