Coronavirus: WHO readies master plan to tackle rapid spread in China

Andrew Cummings
February 14, 2020

China on Friday reported another 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths had been confirmed on the mainland.

World Health Organization figures released earlier on Thursday had shown China reporting a total of 46,550 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in December.

A spokesman for China's health commission, Mi Feng, said the change was aimed at identifying suspected cases in which the patient has pneumonia so they can be treated quicker and reduce the likelihood of more serious illness or death.

The overall confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland had reached 63,851 by the end of Thursday, and 1,380 people had died of the disease. As many as 55,748 are now undergoing treatment, while 1,380 people have died.

"We understand that most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself".

Major shopping mall landlords in Hong Kong are offering cuts in February rent by as much as 60% to help tenants ride out the effects of the virus outbreak * Vietnam has quarantined a community of 10,000 people near Hanoi for 20 days, two local officials told Reuters.

Previously, confirmation depended on a laboratory test - a time-consuming requirement that left a large backlog of untested, suspected cases.

News of the first death from the virus in Japan rattled Asian markets, already on edge after hopes that the epidemic was stabilising appeared to be dashed by a sharp rise in the number of cases on Thursday.

It also followed the sacking on Tuesday of two top health officials in Hubei - Zhang Jin, party chief of the Hubei Health Commission, and Liu Yingzi, provincial health commission director - over their flaws in responding to the epidemic. "It nearly certainly does not mean that there has been a resurgence of the epidemic overnight".

The online newspaper VN Express cited a senior official of Ving Phuc province as reporting an increase in cases in Son Loi commune.

Up until now, they had been documenting cases using a more sophisticated laboratory test.

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Japan's Health Ministry announced that 44 more people on a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted the passengers with handshakes and bouquets of roses as they stepped off the ship and boarded a waiting bus.

"This increase that you've all seen in the last 24 hours is largely, in part, down to a change in how the cases are being reported", Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme, told reporters.

The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the viral disease have been confirmed. The province is at the epicenter of the outbreak.

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