China’s coronavirus death toll rises to 1,886

Tuesday 18th February 2020 14:31 EST

Beijing: The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,800 on Tuesday after 93 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak. In its daily update, the province's health commission also reported 1,886 new cases, a decline on the number of new cases reported on Monday. Among the deaths, 93 were in Hubei Province, three in Henan, and one in Hebei and Hunan respectively, according to the National Health Commission, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population. WHO also said that - with a mortality rate of around 2 per cent - COVID-19 was "less deadly" than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. The outbreak, which has infected some 70,500 people in China and killed over 1,800, has battered manufacturing and tourism across the region and led to multiple travel restrictions including for flights and cruises.

Fall in new cases

The number of new cases in China fell on Sunday and a health official said intense efforts to stop its spread were beginning to work. The number of new cases in mainland China fell for a third straight day, China’s National Health Commission reported on Sunday. Commission spokesman Mi Feng said the percentage of severe cases had dropped to 7.2% of the total from a peak of 15.9% on January 27. The proportion is higher in Wuhan, the Hubei city where the outbreak started, but has fallen to 21.6%. “The national efforts against the epidemic have shown results,” Mi said.

The province and its capital, Wuhan, have been virtually sealed off and locked down since January 23, with schools, offices and factories shut and most travel suspended. The virus is believed to have an incubation period of 14 days which would appear to indicate it has been spreading since the lockdown was imposed. But Mi said the campaign was beginning to show results. “The effect of the coronavirus controls is appearing.”

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