China's Xi urges more policing as virus toll rises

Henrietta Brewer
February 16, 2020

This is significant as coronavirus draws similarities to SARS, which had two outbreaks in 2002 and 2003 killing 774 people, and also attacks the lungs in the same manner as Covoid-19.

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said: "It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure".

There were 139 more deaths due to the coronavirus in Hubei province on Saturday, the health authorities there said this morning.

Also Saturday, France reported Europe's first death from the new virus, a Chinese tourist from Hubei province, where the disease emerged in December. China has changed the way it counts cases in recent days, now including "clinically diagnosed" cases as well as those confirmed by scientific testing, to allow more people to access the required treatment.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said an elderly Chinese tourist hospitalised in France has died of the coronavirus.

Despite the rise in deaths, China said the 2,641 new cases reported in the 24 hours to midnight on Friday represented a "major drop" in new cases. It said they will go into quarantine in the United States. His condition was not a source of concern, the health ministry said.

Some 283 million trips were made within the country between January 25 and Friday, said vice transport minister Liu Xiaoming.

In Singapore, which has 67 confirmed cases, the Roman Catholic Church said it was suspending all masses indefinitely to help prevent the spread of the virus and urged the faithful to follow services on YouTube or the radio.

The coronavirus outbreak is still an emergency for China and it is impossible to tell where the epidemic will spread, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has said.

The number, however, was nearly half those reported the previous day.

"The fundamentals sustaining strong economic growth have not changed, and will not change", he said.

Preliminary clinical trial results are weeks away.

A top Chinese scientist had predicted that the epidemic could peak by the end of this month after the number of new cases had fallen earlier in the week.

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