South Korea, Iran report first virus deaths

Germ alert: People waiting to undergo tests for COVID-19 at a medical centre in Daegu, South Korea, on Thursday.

Germ alert: People waiting to undergo tests for COVID-19 at a medical centre in Daegu, South Korea, on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: AP

China reports drop in new infections

China on Thursday touted a big drop in new virus infections as proof its epidemic control efforts are working, but the toll grew abroad with deaths in Japan and South Korea.

Fatalities in China hit 2,118 as 114 more people died, but health officials reported the lowest number of new cases in nearly a month, including in hardest-hit Hubei province. However, Beijing said it has again changed the method of counting patients and will now include only those diagnosed by sophisticated laboratory testing. It is the second time in just eight days that the country has revised its criteria — a move that could muddle statistics and complicate efforts to track the spread of the illness.

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More than 74,000 people have been infected by the virus in China, and hundreds more in over 25 countries. The number of deaths outside mainland China climbed to 11.

Japan’s toll rose to three as a man and a woman in their 80s who had been aboard a quarantined cruise ship died, while fears there mounted about other passengers who disembarked the Diamond Princess after testing negative.

South Korea reported its first death, and the number of infections in the country nearly doubled Thursday to 104 — including 15 at a hospital in Cheongdo county.

The mayor of Daegu — South Korea's fourth-largest, with 2.5 million people -- advised residents to stay indoors.

Iran reported two deaths on Wednesday, the first in West Asia. Deaths have previously been confirmed in France, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Chinese officials say their drastic containment efforts, including quarantining tens of millions of people in Hubei and restricting movements in cities nationwide, have started to pay off. “Results show that our control efforts are working,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a special meeting on the virus with Southeast Asian counterparts in Laos, citing the latest data.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:52:41 PM |

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