Coronavirus death toll across China surges to 425

Total number of confirmed cases in country increases to 20,438

Passengers wear protective face masks as they arrive from Shenzhen to Hong Kong at Lo Wu MTR station, hours before the closing of the Lo Wu border crossing in Hong Kong, on Monday. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty

Passengers wear protective face masks as they arrive from Shenzhen to Hong Kong at Lo Wu MTR station, hours before the closing of the Lo Wu border crossing in Hong Kong, on Monday. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty

 

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China rose to 425 as of the end of Monday, up by 64 from the previous day, the country’s National Health Commission said on Tuesday.

Of the new deaths, all were in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak. In the provincial capital of Wuhan, 48 people died.

Across China, there were 3,235 new confirmed infections on Monday, bringing the total number so far to 20,438.

A total of 313 people in Wuhan have now died from the virus. New confirmed cases in Wuhan also surged by 1,242 on Monday.

With Wuhan and some other Chinese cities in virtual lockdown, travel severely restricted and China facing increasing international isolation, fears of wider economic disruption are growing.

Chinese stock and commodity markets fell heavily on Monday as the death toll from the epidemic rose inexorably and investors retreated into safe-haven assets in the first trading session after an extended Lunar New Year break.

Markets plunged at the open in their first session since January 23rd, at which stage the outbreak had claimed only 17 lives in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Security personnel checking the temperature of a passenger wearing a face mask at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
Security personnel checking the temperature of a passenger wearing a face mask at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Since then, the flu-like virus has been declared a global emergency and spread to more than two dozen other countries and regions, with the first death outside of China reported on Sunday, that of a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after travelling from Wuhan.

The head of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency team, Dr Mike Ryan, said he has “every confidence” public health authorities in Ireland are making the right preparations for the virus.

“We handled Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) quite well and sensitively,” the Geneva-based Sligo man told The Irish Times. “A key thing is for doctors and emergency departments to be in a position to be alert for, and to detect, cases.”

A passenger who arrived in Dublin Airport and was suspected of having the coronavirus meanwhile tested negative.

The passenger, who was placed in isolation after arriving in Dublin Airport on Saturday from Moscow, was tested on Sunday by the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD.

The Health Service Executive confirmed there were no confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland as of Monday morning.

Cities including Wuhan remain in virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted. China is facing mounting international isolation as well due to restrictions on flights to and from the country.

At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.

Emergency

The WHO has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

A hospital built in just eight days to treat people with the virus in Wuhan was to begin to take patients on Monday, state media said.

An illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illustration: CDC/AP
An illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illustration: CDC/AP

The hospital, called Huoshenshan, or “fire-god mountain”, will have 1,000 beds. More than 7,500 workers took part in the project, launched on January 25th and finished at the weekend.

China is building a second hospital in Wuhan with 1,600 beds. Leishenshan, or “thunder-god mountain”, is scheduled to be completed on February 5th.

More than 250 people from 30 countries arrived in France on Sunday after being flown out of Wuhan in the latest evacuation of foreign nationals from the locked-down city.

Australia evacuated 243 people, many of them children, from Wuhan on Monday and will quarantine them on a remote island in the Indian Ocean off its northwest coast.

Australia on Saturday followed the United States in barring entry to all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China.

The Group of Seven industrialised democracies are trying to find a common approach for dealing with the fast-spreading coronavirus, German health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.

The virus is thought to have emerged late last year in a Wuhan market illegally trading wildlife. It can cause pneumonia and spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes.

It has created alarm because it is spreading quickly and there are still important unknowns surrounding it, such as its death rate and whether it is able to spread before any symptoms show.

Passengers wear face masks while on a subway train in Hong Kong on Monday. Hong Kong’s government said on Monday that it would close more border checkpoints, as some medical workers went on strike to demand a complete ban on entries from mainland China to limit the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Photograph: Billy HC Kwok/New York Times
Passengers wear face masks while on a subway train in Hong Kong on Monday. Hong Kong’s government said on Monday that it would close more border checkpoints, as some medical workers went on strike to demand a complete ban on entries from mainland China to limit the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Photograph: Billy HC Kwok/New York Times

The number of deaths in China has now passed the total Chinese toll from the 2002-03 outbreak of Sars, another coronavirus that emerged from China and killed almost 800 people around the world.

Even so, Chinese data on the numbers of infections and deaths suggests the new coronavirus is less deadly than Sars, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

One-year low

The Shanghai Composite index shed 8 per cent to hit one-year low early on Monday, wiping almost $370 billion off the market value, according to Reuters calculations.

The yuan began trade onshore at its weakest level this year . Iron, oil and copper traded in Shanghai all dropped by their daily limits, catching up with global price falls as the spread of the virus has weighed on the world’s growth outlook.

Beijing said it would help firms that produce vital goods resume work as soon as possible, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Most provinces extended the Lunar New Year holiday to try to contain the virus, with workers in Hubei not scheduled to return to work until after February 13th. –Additional reporting: Reuters