Published: Fri, February 14, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Virus cases rise as experts question China's numbers

Virus cases rise as experts question China's numbers

USA citizens who have recently traveled to the Hubei province of China, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is located, will be quarantined for up to 14 days, US health officials said.

"We're seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnoses are being made to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data", said World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

More than 580 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China, including the first infection on the African continent, reported Friday in Egypt. Experts and African leaders have expressed concern that should the virus spread there, it might wreak havoc among less developed countries with fewer health resources.

In Cambodia, the cruise ship MS Westerdam was allowed to dock in the port town of Sihanoukville after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone on board may have the coronavirus.

Chinese health authorities said the sudden rise is due to inclusion of clinically-diagnosed cases in Hubei. The virus has kicked off an "economic fallout" throughout China, with flower sales reportedly falling as much as 95 percent this Valentine's Day, the Post continues.

"The duties of medical workers at the front are indeed extremely heavy; their working and resting circumstances are limited, the psychological pressures are great and the risk of infection is high", Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of the commission, told a news conference. It also reported 5,090 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on Thursday, taking the total number of infected to 63,851.

He said that other parts of China, however, would still need to wait for cases to be confirmed in laboratories before they could be officially counted.

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Meantime, the vulnerability of health workers responding to the epidemic was crystalized with other data emerging from China.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's health emergencies program, stressed the importance of keeping politics out of discussions about the outbreak.

However, the WHO's Ryan said the numbers of infected health workers is sad but not alarming.

The outbreak of the new virus was first identified in China in December. Meanwhile, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.

One doctor at a community clinic in Wuhan told AFP he and at least 16 other colleagues were showing symptoms similar to the new virus, including lung infections and coughing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday urged to improve medical insurance and aid system for major diseases, stressing that ensuring the safety and health of the people is the major task.

The temporary entry ban applies to foreign nationals, with the exception of relatives of citizens and permanent residents.

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