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Coronavirus UPDATE: 107 dead, more cases in Singapore and 1 in Cambodia

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The death toll in China from the respiratory illness called the Wuhan Coronavirus or the Novel Coronavirus, has now reached 106, according to Channel News Asia. There are no deaths reported outside China and the vast majority of deaths are in the province of Hubei (76) where Wuhan is the capital.

The number of total confirmed cases has risen to 4,515 as of January 27. The numbers from the National Health Commission in a statement, up from 2,835 reported on January 26.

Chinese authorities have postponed the start of the spring semester for schools and universities across the country, stretching the end of the Chinese New Year holiday three additional days, from this Thursday to the following Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration has taken decisive action and will temporarily stop issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals “to help ensure the country remained free of the new coronavirus”.

Comparison between SARS and Coronavirus HERE.

A statement from the Chinese education ministry says teaching institutions around the country would reopen on a case-by-case basis. School administrators had been instructed to, as a precaution, “require students not to go out, not to gather, and not to hold or participate in centralised activities”.

The virus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has since been identified in more than a dozen other countries, including the first confirmed patients in Canada and Sri Lanka. No deaths, connected to the virus, have been confirmed outside China.

China last week locked down up to 15 cities in central China’s Hubei province – the biggest quarantine operation on record. City authorities are racing to build two new hospitals specifically to isolate new cases and treat virus patients.

The World Health Organisation confirmed yesterday that it “remained unclear” if the coronavirus is contagious during its incubation period, before symptoms appear. It hasn’t confirmed assertions made by Chinese authorities over the weekend that people who are infected could spread the disease before they showed any outward symptoms of fever.

Current situation

• The youngest confirmed case is a 9 month old girl in the Chinese capital.

• A fifth case of the coronavirus is confirmed in Singapore, according to the Ministry of Health. The confirmed case is a 56 year old Chinese female from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with her family on January 18.

• Cambodian authorities have confirmed the first case of coronavirus yesterday. The patient is a Chinese man who arrived with his family from Wuhan to Sihanoukville, on the Gulf of Thailand, in early January. Thailand is conducting checks on all people crossing over the land border from Cambodia into Thailand.

• Thailand and Hong Kong have now both reported eight confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. The US, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five. Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia have four. France has three; Canada and Vietnam have two. Nepal and Cambodia each have one case.

• The lockdown, affecting 56 million people, principally in Hubei cities and other strategic locations, could actually be making the situation worse, according to some medical experts. They say the lockdowns slow the movement of critical medical supplies and also make the lockdown cities a hotbed of panic.

• Stocks have tumbled and oil prices fallen over the past 24 hours as the spread of coronavirus spooks investors around the world. China’s yuan has also fallen in value, while investors continued their move into safe havens like gold. China’s A-shares, the mainland share markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, is down by more than 5% yesterday.

• In the US, at least 110 people are being tested for coronavirus. Three University of Washington students, recently returned from Wuhan, China, have become sick and are being tested for the virus, but officials claim they are not confirmed cases. The three have been isolated and treated in their dorms and not hospitalised.

The Mayor of Wuhan

Wuhan’s leading Communist Party officials have offered to step down amid the growing criticism that the local authorities’ response was too slow. Mayor Zhou Xianwang says that he and Ma Guoqiang, the city’s Communist party secretary, will take responsibility for the crisis and resign to “appease public indignation.”

The mayor says the ban on travel is “unprecedented in human history”. The ban was enacted last week and effectively cut off the city of 11 million people. Medical workers in the city continue to accuse the Wuhan civil government of reacting too slowly to the crisis. Residents are using social media to complain about the ban on travel that is making it difficult to get food and health care into the city.

Yesterday, Wuhan shops remained mostly closed. But supermarkets, fresh produce markets and shops, and pharmacies, remained open. Many pharmacies report that they have run out of protective masks and hand disinfectant.

Wuhan’s streets remain mostly free of cars. Many residents walked or rode bicycles to do their shopping.

Read our comparison between the SARS virus outbreak, nearly 20 years ago, and the novel coronavirus HERE.

SOURCES: Forbes | Channel News Asia | New York Times | Science Today

 

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