KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The number of novel coronavirus infections in China has reached 5,974, surpassing the 5,327 SARS cases during the 2002-03 epidemic in the country.
South China Morning Post reported that the death toll from the new strain of coronavirus, currently dubbed 2019-nCoV, went up to 132 by the end of yesterday, with 840 newly confirmed cases in Hubei province, the epicentre of the pneumonia-like outbreak. The SARS epidemic had killed almost 800 people globally.
A total of 125 deaths were reported in Hubei, with the remaining seven in other provinces in China.
Infections of the novel coronavirus have now spread to at least 15 countries outside China, including in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Japan, Germany, and Vietnam have reported their first cases of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus involving patients who had not travelled to China during the outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its situation report yesterday that most 2019-nCoV patients appeared to have mild disease, with 20 per cent seemingly progressing to severe disease, including pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death in some cases.
According to Al-Jazeera, the United States and Japan have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan, a central Chinese city where the outbreak began and is currently under lockdown along with various other cities.
Australia will also evacuate some citizens from Hubei province and quarantine them on Christmas Island.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday to share the latest information on the 2019-nCoV outbreak. The WHO promised to send international experts to China as soon as possible.
The United Nations public health body said the source of the outbreak and the extent to which it has spread in China are still unknown.
“We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus,” Tedros said.
The new strain of coronavirus from China comes from the same family of viruses that produce deadly infections like SARS and MERS, or mild conditions like the common cold.