Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Coronavirus Infections Continue to Rise, but Pace Slows

Voice of America
16 Feb 2020, 18:35 GMT+10

The World Health Organization said late Saturday there are 50,580 laboratory-confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, with the vast majority of the cases -- 50,054 -- in China.

WHO said 1,527 new cases had been reported globally in the last 24 hours. China had 1,506 of the new cases in the period, according to WHO.

China's statistics, however, differ from those of WHO because China's government recently changed its methodology for diagnosing and counting new cases, causing a spike in the number of reported cases. Under the new method, doctors can use lung imaging and other analyses to diagnose a patient instead of relying on laboratory testing.

China says nearly 1,700 people have died from the virus and more than 68,000 people have been infected. The health commission confirmed 1,843 new cases Sunday, representing a drop from higher numbers of new cases in recent days. Over the previous two days, China had reported more than 7,500 new infections.

China's National Health Commission said Saturday that most of the new deaths were in Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have begun.

The risk assessment for the virus is "very high" in China and is "high" for the rest of the world, WHO said.

WHO to investigate

China and WHO have launched a joint probe into the coronavirus.

"We're concerned about the lack of urgency in funding the response from the international community," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday at the annual Munich Security Conference.

Officials in China's capital have initiated a 14-day self-quarantine policy for all people returning to Beijing. The state-run Beijing Daily newspaper reports that those who refuse to seclude themselves or violate other containment rules "will be held accountable under the law," but it is was not immediately clear what the consequences of refusing to self-isolate would be.

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist died Friday in a hospital in Paris. He was the first person in Europe to die of complications from the virus.

In addition, the first coronavirus infection on the African continent has been reported in Egypt.

Cruise passengers evacuated

The Diamond Princess, a quarantined cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, has reported another 70 virus-infected people, bringing the ship's total cases among the nearly 4,000 passengers and crew to 355.

"We must anticipate a spread of infections," Japanese Health Minister Katsunobo Kato said Sunday.

The Japanese health minister told state broadcaster NHK that efforts must be focused on preventing "people from becoming gravely ill or dying." He added, "We will make the people feel at ease by providing information in a timely manner and continue to forestall measures."

Canada, Hong Kong and the U.S. say they are sending planes to Japan to evacuate their citizens from the ship.

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