Published: Thu, February 20, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

China reports drop in coronavirus cases; scientists warn virus may spread easily

China reports drop in coronavirus cases; scientists warn virus may spread easily

Mainland China had 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country's National Health Commission said on Wednesday, down from 1,886 cases a day earlier and the lowest since January 29.

On Wednesday morning, China reported an additional 136 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths there to 2,004, and the global death toll to 2,010.

China's National Health Commission said Thursday it would now only classify patients as suspected cases and confirmed cases, eliminating the category for clinically diagnosed cases by CT scans.

On Wednesday, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 15 additional cases, bringing the total number to 46 - an increase of nearly 50% in one day.

The viral outbreak gripping China has claimed over 2,000 lives - the vast majority in Hubei province, the epicenter of the illness - according to the latest official tally.

The official death toll in China hit 1,868 yesterday after another 98 people died, mostly in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December a year ago.

The WHO said today in its daily update that over the past 24 hours it has received 120 new reports of COVID-19 cases outside China from 25 countries, 3 of them fatal.

Beyond mainland China, six people have died from the disease, and governments around the world are trying to prevent it from spreading into a global epidemic.

Of these new cases, 18 were detected in the city of Daegu and the nearby province of North Gyeongsang.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region recorded its second death caused by the new coronavirus on Wednesday, according to a Princess Margaret Hospital spokeswoman. Wuhan residents reported overcrowding in hospitals and futile attempts to seek treatment.

China's top diplomat arrived in Laos on Wednesday for an emergency meeting with counterparts from Southeast Asian countries, which have expressed alarm over the viral outbreak.

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"It may be that the epidemic is simply running its natural course, and is starting to run out of new people to infect".

The Westerdam was allowed to dock in Cambodia after Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Thailand refused to let it land because of fear that its passengers might spread the virus.

Wuchang Hospital director Liu Zhiming (劉智明) died yesterday morning after "all-out rescue efforts failed", China Central Television reported.

Economists are warning of potential mass layoffs in China later this year if the virus is not contained soon.

Amid the Chinese rate cut announcement and a decline in new coronavirus cases in China, the yuan is extending the declines, dragging the Antipodeans lower alongside. Since then 75,282 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan's efforts "may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship".

Passengers began leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship after the much-criticized two-week on-board quarantine in Japan ended on Wednesday, with 79 more virus cases confirmed for a total of 621 - the most in any place outside of China.

"We strongly urge USA citizens remaining in China to stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others, including large gatherings".

In order to substantially reduce the volume of travellers coming from China foreign travellers who left or had transit through mainland China after February 2 are being refused entry to New Zealand.

At the time, no cases of the virus had been reported aboard the ship. The woman tested positive on Tuesday.

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