There are now more than 64,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across China (Photo Credit: IANS)
The death count in China's novel coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 1,500, China's national authorities announced on Friday. Almost all the deaths are in Hubei Province which showed a sharp increase with new confirmed cases. There are now more than 64,000 confirmed cases across China, based on previously released figures from the government. The death count due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has surpassed the toll from the SARS outbreak on the mainland and Hong Kong almost two decades ago. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a disease in the same family as the new coronavirus, left nearly 774 people dead in mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. More than 120 others died around the world.
Health officials in Hubei said they started to count clinically diagnosed cases to ensure that patients get treated as early as possible instead of having to wait for laboratory tests to confirm they have the COVID-19 disease.
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 virus was officially named COVID-19 at a conference in Geneva held by the World Health Organization, where the body's chief said countries had a chance of stopping its global spread.
WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday that although 99 percent of cases are in China, where it remains much an emergency, it also holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world.
China has struggled to contain the current virus despite having placed some 56 million people under effective lockdown in Hubei and its provincial capital, Wuhan. Other cities far from the epicentre have also taken measures to keep people indoors, limiting the number of individuals who can leave their home.