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Death toll in coronavirus in China climbs to over 1860

6092
By PTI Updated: Feb 18, 2020 8:54 pm
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Beijing, Feb. 18 (PTI): The death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic climbed to 1,868 on Tuesday as 98 more people died while the total number of confirmed cases jumped to 72,436, officials said.

Of the new deaths, 93 were reported from Hubei Province, the epicentre of the virus, three from Henan, and one each from Hebei and Hunan, said the National Health Commission.

Hubei reported 1,807 new confirmed cases, taking the total number of such cases to 59,989 in the province. Another 1,432 new suspected cases were reported from the rest of China.

On Monday, 1,097 patients became seriously ill and 11,741 patients remained in severe condition, the commission said.

Of the 41,957 patients hospitalised in Hubei, 9,117 were still in severe condition and another 1,853 in critical condition, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The province also saw 1,223 patients discharged from hospital after recovery on Monday, bringing the total number of discharged patients in the province to 7,862. A total of 12,552 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery across China so far, it said.

In view of human-to-human transmission of the disease, over 1.41 lakh people who have come in contact with the people who contracted the virus are still under medical observation, it said.

By Monday, 60 confirmed cases including one death had been reported in Hong Kong 10 confirmed cases in Macao and 22 in Taiwan including one death.

Top World Health Organisation experts, including from the US, have joined the fight against the the virus, called COVID-19, in China.

China confirmed that the 12-member WHO team includes Americans, as sought by the US.

“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 media.

NHC said China has stepped up efforts to shore up weak spots as the epidemic prevention and control have entered the most crucial stage.

“Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, remains the main battlefield,” Wang Hesheng, deputy head of NHC, said. “Improving admission and survival rates and reducing infection and fatality rates are still the most urgent tasks.”

Nine temporary hospitals with more than 6,960 beds have opened in Hubei.

As of February 14, a total of 217 medical teams with 25,633 medical workers had been sent to Hubei, the Xinhua report said.

Old people, patients with existing conditions most prone to die – Study (Subheadline)

People infected with the novel coronavirus who are more than 80 years old have the highest chances of dying from infection of all age groups, according to the largest study since the highly contagious outbreak began in China, with details of nearly 44,000 cases.

The study, published on Monday in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, revealed that a total of 1,023 deaths have occurred among 44,672 confirmed cases as of February 11, for an overall case fatality rate of 2.3 per cent.

The novel Chinese coronavirus, or COVID-19, has so far killed over 1,800 individuals and infected more than 72,000 people, Chinese health officials said on Tuesday.

According to the clinicians from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, majority of the patients were aged 30 69 years (77.8 per cent), male (51.4 per cent), farmers or labourers (22 per cent), and diagnosed in Hubei Province (74.7 per cent).

The study noted that people with ages 80 and above had the highest case fatality rate of all age groups at about 15 per cent.

It said the death rate from the disease for males was 2.8 per cent and that for females was about 1.7 per cent.

In terms of occupation, patients who reported being retirees had the highest case fatality rate at about 5 per cent, and those in Hubei Province had a fatality rate that was more than seven-fold higher at nearly 3 per cent compared to patients in other regions of China, the study noted.

The researchers reported that patients with comorbid conditions had much higher fatality rates — 10.5 per cent for those with cardiovascular disease, 7.3 per cent for diabetes, and 6.3 per cent for chronic respiratory disease, 6.0 per cent for hypertension, and 5.6 per cent for cancer.

The fatality rate was about 50 per cent for cases categorised as critical, the study noted.

Assessing the cases as they emerged over the weeks, the scientists found that in December 2019 only 0.22 cases/day began to experience symptoms with the peak onset of symptoms for all cases overall occurring on February 1, 2020.

Since then, the researchers reported that the onset of illness has declined. The researchers noted that the virus is highly contagious.

“It has spread extremely rapidly from a single city to the entire country within only about 30 days,” the researchers reported in the study.

“Moreover, it has achieved such far-reaching effects even in the face of extreme response measures including the complete shutdown and isolation of whole cities, cancellation of Chinese New Year celebrations, prohibition of attendance at school and work, massive mobilisation of health and public health personnel as well as military medical units, and rapid construction of entire hospitals,” they said.

Overall, the scientists said the viral infection has been mild for nearly four-fifths of the patients, and has a very low case fatality rate.

Among the 1,023 deaths, they noted that a majority have been of age 60 years or older and/or have had pre-existing, comorbid conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

“Moreover, the case fatality rate is unsurprisingly highest among critical cases at 49 per cent, and no deaths have occurred among those with mild or even severe symptoms,” the clinicians wrote in the study.

The scientists also suspect that the virus may have jumped from animals at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan to humans at several times in the past.

This, they believe, may have allowed the novel coronavirus to be transmitted from a still-unknown animal into humans and, due to its high mutation and recombination rates, they speculate it adapted to become increasingly efficient at human-to-human transmission.

The study also noted that some strategies used to curtail the spread of the outbreak may have worked.

“The downward trend in the overall epidemic curve suggests that perhaps isolation of whole cities, broadcast of critical information (e.g., promoting hand washing, mask wearing, and care seeking) with high frequency through multiple channels, and mobilisation of a multi-sector rapid response teams is helping to curb the epidemic,” the researchers wrote in the study.

One limitation pointed out by the authors of the study is that a large proportion of the 72,314 cases reported in the study were not confirmed by the sensitive nucleic acid testing as this process is slow, labour intensive, and requires specialised equipment.

However, all the cases were diagnosed clinically and investigated by trained epidemiologists, they said.

According to the authors, while the actions taken by the Chinese government has slowed down the epidemic in China, and curbed its spread to the rest of the world, there may be more challenges ahead.

“Huge numbers of people will soon be returning to work and school after the extended New Year holiday. We need to prepare for a possible rebound of the COVID-19 epidemic in the coming weeks and months,” the researchers warned.

China to waive tariffs on US medical imports amid virus outbreak

China will waive trade-war tariffs on imports of selected US medical equipment from March 2, the government said Tuesday, as the country battles to contain the new coronavirus epidemic.

More than 72,000 people have been infected by the outbreak of the new COVID-19 strain in China, which has claimed the lives of over 1,800 people.

Products that will qualify for the exemptions include patient monitors, blood transfusion equipment and instruments to measure blood pressure, according to a list released by the Tariff Commission of the State Council.

The commission said the move was “to better meet the growing needs of Chinese consumers” and that it would accept applications from firms in China.

The tariff exemptions will apply for a designated period, supporting firms that want to import from the US based on “business considerations”, said authorities.

The list of eligible products also includes a wide range of food items such as frozen pork, beef and seafood.

There has been a spike in pork prices in China over the past year due to African Swine Fever, which ravaged pig herds across the country.

The latest move follows other exemptions or cuts that China has announced — either related to its virus fight or a trade deal it signed with the US in January.

At the start of the month, China said US imports that can be used in its fight against the deadly virus will be exempted from retaliatory tariffs imposed in the trade war.More than a week ago, Beijing also announced it would halve tariffs on USD 75 billion worth of US imports as part of its trade truce with the US.

6092
By PTI Updated: Feb 18, 2020 8:54:02 pm