The coronavirus death count has surpassed the toll from 2002-03 SARS outbreak. (Photo Credit: IANS)
The death count in China’s novel coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 425 with the number of confirmed cases crossing over 20,438, China’s national authorities announced on Tuesday. The coronavirus death count has surpassed the toll from 2002-03 SARS outbreak. Almost all the deaths are in Hubei Province which showed a sharp increase with a near 3,000 new confirmed cases.
The World Health Organization said the number of cases will keep growing because tests are pending on thousands of suspected cases.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, presiding over a special meeting of the country’s top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, said “we have launched a people’s war of prevention of the epidemic.”
China imposed a lockdown on a major city far from the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic. The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Israel have banned foreign nationals from visiting if they have been in China recently, and they have also warned their own citizens against travelling there.
China has opened a new hospital built in 10 days, infused cash into tumbling financial markets and further restricted people's movement in hopes of containing the rapidly spreading virus and its escalating impact.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract. Animals are suspected to be the primary source of the outbreak, with Chinese health officials saying the virus originated from the market where wild animals were illegally sold. Studies published this week suggest that the virus may have originated in bats or snakes.
The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31, and it has since been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.