International

COVID-19 | New China cases drop for third day

A goverment worker wearing a face mask waits for patients to arrive at a tumor hospital newly designated to treat COVID-19 patients in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

A goverment worker wearing a face mask waits for patients to arrive at a tumor hospital newly designated to treat COVID-19 patients in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

Death toll reaches 1, 665, while more than 68,000 have been infected; Taiwan records first fatality.

The number of new cases from China’s COVID-19 epidemic dropped for a third consecutive day on Sunday, as the World Health Organisation chief warned it was “impossible” to predict how the outbreak would develop.

The death toll jumped to 1,665 in mainland China on Sunday after 142 more people died from the virus. More than 68,000 people have now been infected — but the number of new cases of the COVID-19 strain continued to decline. In hardest-hit Hubei, the number of new cases slowed for a third consecutive day and at 139, the number of deaths was level with Saturday’s toll. The number of new cases in other parts of the country has dropped for twelve straight days.

Mi Feng, National Health Commission spokesman, said the figures were a sign that China was controlling the outbreak. “The effects of epidemic prevention and control in various parts of the country can already be seen,” he said.

But the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that it was “impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take”. “We ask all governments, companies, and news organisations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm without fanning the flames of hysteria,” he said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

Taiwan reported its first death on Sunday, after a 61-year-old man with underlying health problems but no recent overseas travel history died in hospital on Saturday. It is the fifth recorded death outside mainland China — previous victims were in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and France.

The scale of the epidemic ballooned on Thursday after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, retroactively adding 14,000 cases in a single day.

Movement restricted

Chinese authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei and its capital Wuhan under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.

Even as China insisted the epidemic was under control, Hubei authorities announced on Sunday a tightening of movement across the province. This includes broad instructions that residential compounds and villages are “sealed off” from unnecessary visitors, with tenants’ outings “strictly managed”, as well as recommending bulk purchases of daily necessities. All non-essential public spaces will also be closed, and residential areas and workplaces with confirmed cases should implement a 14-day quarantine.

Beijing’s municipal government has enacted a rule requiring people coming to the capital to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to official media.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 3:09:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/covid-19-death-toll-in-china-exceeds-1600/article30834221.ece

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