Outbreak diary: Coronavirus death toll rises to 1,017, Xi admits shortcomings in disease control
More than a 100 people died in China from the novel coronavirus on Monday, the highest for a day, taking the death toll to 1017 on the mainland.
As many as 42744 were infected while an additional 21675 suspected to have the disease, latest figures said Tuesday evening.
At least two persons have so far died outside the mainland: One each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said 393 cases have been reported from 24 countries so far.
The outbreak toll continued to rise as President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance on Monday in Beijing amid the escalating public health crisis in China.
Xi admitted – for the second time in two weeks – that the epidemic had “exposed shortcomings in China’s disease prevention and control system”.
The state media released photos of a surgical mask-wearing Xi getting his temperature checked at a hospital in Beijing designated to treat NCP patients and interacting with medical workers.
Reuters quoted anonymous sources as saying Xi had warned top officials last week that efforts to contain the new coronavirus had gone too far, threatening the country’s economy, days before Beijing rolled out measures to soften the blow.
Xi told local officials during a Feb 3 meeting of the Communist Party oF China’s politburo’s standing committee that “…some of the actions taken to contain the virus are harming the economy,” two people familiar with the meeting told Reuters.
On Tuesday, reports said China had removed several senior officials over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Top among those punished were the party secretary for the Hubei Health Commission, and the head of the commission -- the most senior officials to be removed so far.
The central Chinese province of Hubei continued to be the worst-hit: It reported 2,097 new NCP cases on February 10, with 103 new deaths and 427 recovered.
The city at the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province’s capital, Wuhan, has restricted the entry and exit of residents from residential buildings, health officials announced.
Earlier in the day, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva that there were many areas of concern.
“In recent days we have seen some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China, like the cases reported in France yesterday and the UK today,” Tedros said.
“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now, it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment. We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire,” the WHO chief said.
At a conference on the outbreak in Gevena held later on Tuesday, he said there were many aspects of the disease that scientists didn’t know about including the infection reservoirs, the transmission dynamics and the period of infectiousness.
In China, the government’s top medical advisor on the outbreak, Zhong Nanshan echoed Tedros, saying, for example, that it was difficult to predict when the disease will peak.
It could be mid-to-late February depending on many variables like control measures, state media quoted him as saying.
Zhong is a reputed respiratory expert who is credited by the Chinese government as having discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003.
A new study of 1000 Coronavirus patients led by Zhong has also said that the incubation period for the virus could be 24 days rather than 14 days as previously believed.
The study added that fewer than half of the patients in the study showed fever symptoms when they first saw doctors.
Besides Zhong, at least three dozen researchers from Chinese hospitals and medical schools were involved in the study.
Echoing the WHO chief, the study too showed that much is unknown about the new virus.
Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said he anticipated a day when his country could engage India not just for diplomatic reasons but also economic. Zardari was quoted by news agency PTI as acknowledging Pak's relations with India have not been 'moving forward'. The minister said the best way forward on domestic and international levels is to leave aside political bickering and explore and unlock his country's huge untapped potential.
A new satellite-based initiative that will link naval facilities in India, Singapore and the South Pacific and allow Indo-Pacific countries to track illegal fishing and “dark shipping” is one of the most significant steps taken by the Quad since its revival in 2017. These initiatives appear clearly aimed at positioning the Quad, which groups India, Australia, Japan and the US, as a counterweight to China's increasing influence and assertive in the region.
Canadian health authorities have confirmed 15 cases of monkeypox in the country, and with more samples arriving for laboratory tests, that number is likely to rise. On Tuesday, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said, in a statement, that the Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed 10 more cases of monkeypox in the province of Quebec, bringing the total cases in Canada to 15.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing backlash on social media over his seven-year-old tweet in which he had urged the residents to buy more new guns. In October 2015, the Republican leader said he was “embarrassed” by the fact that Texas was lagging behind California in new gun purchases, urging residents to “pick up the pace.”
Canada has identified 10 new cases of monkeypox - a disease endemic to forested parts of central and western Africa - bringing total infections in the country to 15. The new cases of monkeypox were detected in Quebec. Health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said samples were being analysed and cautioned, "We expect more cases to be confirmed in the coming days." The majority of cases this year have been reported in Europe.