An elderly man wearing a face mask has his temperature checked before entering a community hospital in Shanghai, China, on February 13, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 1,350, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against downplaying the epidemic, mainly centered in China.
Chinas health authorities reported on Thursday that 242 more people had lost their lives due to the deadly virus in the central province of Hubei a day earlier, raising the death toll in the epicenter of the epidemic since the beginning of the outbreak to 1,310.
The latest increase pushed the total number of deaths in mainland China to at least 1,355 and the global death toll to 1,357, with one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
Hubeis health commission also reported a huge jump in new cases and said a further 14,840 people had been confirmed with the infection, which brings the total number of cases there to 48,206.
The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases so far has gone beyond 60,015, with the vast majority of cases being in mainland China.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday that the head of the Communist Party in the province of Hubei had been removed from his post, the latest in a series of dismissals of local officials since the pathogen was identified in December last year. Earlier, the Communist Party chief of the health commission of Hubei, Zhang Jin, and its director, Liu Yingzi, had been removed.
Virus spread should be viewed with ‘extreme caution
The WHO said on Wednesday that the number of coronavirus infection cases in China had stabilized.
"The number of newly confirmed cases reported from China has stabilized over the past week, but that must be interpreted with extreme caution. This outbreak could still go in any direction," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva.
Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHOs health emergencies program, also told the briefing that it was too early to predict the end of the current novel coronavirus outbreak.
"We would love to be able to predict the future," Ryan said. "[But] I think we have to be very cautious."
The WHO has already declared the fast spread of the virus a global health emergency.
The biggest cluster of coronovirus cases identified outside China has been reported on Diamond Princess, a British cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama, where 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive for the virus.
In a related development, the US cruise ship of MS Westerdam finally berthed in Cambodia after being denied docking rights in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines over fears that one or some of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have contracted the virus.
Vietnam quarantines thousands
Vietnam announced Thursday that a commune of 10,000 people would be placed under quarantine due to fears over the spread of the new coronavirus.
"As of February 13, 2020, we will urgently implement the task of isolation and quarantine of the epidemic area in Son Loi commune," said a Health Ministry statement. "The timeline... is for 20 days."
There are 15 confirmed cases of the deadly virus in Vietnam.
SOURCE: PRESS TV