Newly-built hospital in Wuhan accepts patients infected with coronavirus

Henrietta Brewer
February 5, 2020

Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee on Monday the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus.

But four cases are suspected to be local transmissions, including two people confirmed on Tuesday afternoon who have no history of recent travel to the mainland.

"I would say is this is an unprecedented situation and we have taken aggressive measures", she said in a call with reporters, citing the number of deaths inside China, the first death outside of China, and the rising number of cases as well as data indicating that people who are asymptomatic, or not showing symptoms, or mildly symptomatic could be transmitting the disease.

Chinese official do not know exactly how the virus could have been transmitted from animals to people, but believe open-air markets in China, where wild and domesticated animals are sold, may be a contributor.

The head of the organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accused wealthy countries of falling short on their duties in sharing data, stating that: "Of the 176 cases reported outside China so far, World Health Organization has received complete case report forms for only 38 percent".

The WHO has said the outbreak does not yet constitute a "pandemic".

Hong Kong on Tuesday reported its first death from the illness, a man who had travelled from the mainland city of Wuhan that has been the epicentre of the outbreak.

Hong Kong media said the man had underlying health issues.

The 2003 outbreak of the SARS virus, which Beijing initially covered up, killed nearly 300 people in Hong Kong and left lasting psychological scars on the densely populated city.

Excepting cases in Hubei, the mortality rate drops down to 0.16 percent, bringing it much closer to the flu.

SARS killed almost 10 percent of patients. There were a further 3,156 cases detected, taking the total in the province to 16,678.

At least 10 people on a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive for the coronavirus, Japan's Health Minister said on Wednesday.

Chinese authorities have tried to stop the spread by instituting bans on movement in certain regions, and extending holidays to keep people away from schools and other large gatherings.

And the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday advised Britons to leave China, "if they can", to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.

The United States, meanwhile, acknowledged that the outbreak may delay Beijing's plans to purchase American goods under the terms of a deal meant to end the two countries' trade war.

A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built for patients infected with the new virus is due to open within days.

State media reported that the city planned to convert an additional eight facilities into hospitals.

Other reports by iNewsToday