Published: Thu, February 13, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

China sacks party chiefs at virus epicentre

China sacks party chiefs at virus epicentre

Reuters has reported that the number of cases of infection with the new coronavirus in China has stabilised, but that apparent slowdown in the epidemic spread should be viewed with "extreme caution", the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

- Chinese health authorities said that a total of 5,911 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospital after recovery by the end of Wednesday, with Wednesday witnessing 1,171 people walk out of hospital after recovery.

In another development, the Chinese Communist Party, led by Xi, has replaced Jiang Chaoliang as secretary of its Hubei Provincial Committee with Ying Yong, former Shanghai mayor, state-run media reported Thursday.

Another evacuee was diagnosed with the virus earlier this week, but CDC officials said it appeared the two had been separately exposed to the virus in China before arriving in the United States.

Outside mainland China, over 500 cases have been reported, including in other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, with one death in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

The removals are the latest in a purge that saw Hubei's two most senior health officials fired earlier this week as criticism grows over the way the outbreak has been handled, with claims of under-reporting.

"Presumably, there are deaths which occurred in people who did not have a lab diagnosis but did have a CT".

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The WHO also tweeted the new name for the disease in this February 12 post: "We now have a name for the #2019nCoV disease: COVID-19".

Results from Chinese trials testing a combination of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV against the new coronavirus are due in weeks, but experts say a vaccine could still be months away.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction", WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus warned.

As the figures soared in China, a troubling new front opened abroad as neighboring Vietnam placed 10,000 people under quarantine after six COVID-19 cases were discovered in a cluster of villages - the first such lockdown overseas. In all, 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive.

There was a happy ending in sight for another cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines had refused to let dock over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have the virus. "I thought: Is this real?"

Many airlines have suspended flights to China, while countries have imposed bans or quarantine for people arriving from China, disrupting businesses and playing havoc with conferences and sporting events.

In Vietnam, authorities announced they were locking down the commune of Son Loi, a farming region about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Hanoi, for 20 days.

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