Friday, April 03, 2020

COVID-19: WHO experts join inspections in China as death toll climbs to 1,770

By PTI Updated: Feb 17, 2020 10:33 pm

Beijing, Feb. 17 (PTI): Top WHO experts, including from the US, have joined the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China that has claimed 1,770 lives, as Beijing stepped up its efforts by deploying 30,000 more medical staff in the worst-affected Wuhan city to contain the spread of the epidemic.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Monday that 105 people died of the virus on Sunday while 2,048 new cases of infection have been confirmed, taking the total number of COVID-19 infected cases to 70,548, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Of the new deaths, 100 were reported from the central Hubei province, three in the central Henan province, and two in the southern Guangdong province.

The efforts to combat coronavirus picked up the pace with the global experts mobilised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) joining hands with their Chinese counterparts.

China has confirmed that the WHO team reportedly comprising 12 members includes experts from the US, which has been a major demand from Washington.

“The foreign experts on board the China-WHO Joint Mission have arrived in Beijing. They have started relevant activities. We have experts from the US in the Mission,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told an online media briefing here on Monday.

They will carry out field trips in Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan, he said.

The Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan, the epicentres of the virus, however, were a surprise omission from their places of visit.

The NHC said a joint expert team consisting of experts from China and the WHO began field inspections on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak on Monday.

The expert team will go to Beijing, Guangdong province and Sichuan province to conduct inspections, Mi Feng, spokesperson for the NHC told the media here.

A symposium was held by the NHC on Sunday, which was attended by nearly 80 people, including joint expert team members and representatives from the State Council’s joint prevention and control mechanism, Mi said.

The attendees talked about Hubei, the virus-hit province, during a teleconference, and discussed the situation of the epidemic, control and prevention measures in communities and rural areas, wildlife management and drug and vaccine development, state-run Xinhua reported.

The joint expert team acknowledged China’s prevention and control measures, as well as the dedication of Chinese medical workers, Mi said.

Also on Monday, China dispatched more than 30,000 medical staff, including elite medical groups, to assist in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, Guo Yanhong, an official with the NHC said.

China has already deployed several hundred military medical workers in Hubei province.

China has sent about 11,000 intensive care specialists into the coronavirus-hit Wuhan, making up to approximately 10 per cent of the country’s total number of intensive care medics, Guo told reporters here.

Guo said three top-level medical groups led by Chinese academicians, namely Zhong Nanshan, Li Lanjuan and Wang Chen, have also joined the fight at the frontline.

Chinese officials, who have been asserting that the cases of the virus showed a significant drop in the past few days, announced more stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The local government in Beijing has announced that all the foreigners including diplomats who are arriving back to the city to join work have to undergo 14-day quarantine at home or at designated places.

Meanwhile, Hubei, where 18 cities with over 50 million people are under lockdown since January 23, announced a slew of more stringent measures to control the epidemic, including enforcing province-wide traffic restrictions on all non-emergency vehicles and closing all non-essential public venues.

A statement by the provincial government said the health screening campaign should be strengthened and no one should be missed. Also, companies should not resume production unless allowed by the local authorities. Those that have resumed work including public institutions should follow strict prevention measures.

The measures came as the situation remains “grave”, the statement added.

Chinese health officials said the average time from the onset of symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to diagnosis has been shortened to 4.95 days.

“We have shortened the diagnosis time in order to make early and timely treatment, which is an effective way to improve the recovery rate,” Guo said.Data from the NHC shows that a total of 10,844 COVID-19 patients had been discharged from hospitals after recovery by the end of Sunday, he said.

By PTI Updated: Feb 17, 2020 10:33:21 pm