The number of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak once again hit a daily record in China, pushing the toll to 722 on Friday, AFP reported. Another 86 people died from the infection, the country’s National Health Commission said. The number of new confirmed infections from the virus rose to 3,399, bringing the total accumulated number so far to 34,500 across the country.
The deaths in China has now surpassed the total Chinese toll from the 2002-’03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. It was another coronavirus that emerged from China and killed almost 800 people around the world.
Meanwhile, more people on a cruise ship quarantined in a Japanese port tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday and thousands of passengers remained confined to their cabins, only allowed on deck briefly for fresh air.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said many citizens are on board the cruise ship, but none of them have tested positive so far. “Many Indian crew and some Indian passengers are onboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined off Japan due to coronavirus,” he tweeted. “None have tested positive, as per the latest information provided by our Embassy. We are closely following the development.”
The Diamond Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, was placed on a two-week quarantine on arriving at Yokohama on Monday after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.
Another three people on the ship tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases from the ship to 64, Japan’s health ministry said on Saturday.
A resident of West Bengal, who is onboard, said the infection is spreading and has appealed to the Indian authorities for help, according to The Indian Express. In one of the social media posts, the man said people want to disembark and be properly quarantined. “We are in fear,” he added. “We are nearly 200 Indian crew on board. We have not tested positive.”
He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send a special flight to evacuate the stranded Indian citizens. “This is Indian culture,” he said. “Please Modiji, you can do something.”
Experts have warned that in cruise ships respiratory infections can spread very quickly. People also carry the risk of transmitting a viral infection to other countries as passengers embark and disembark.
Meanwhile, a United States citizen suffering from the coronavirus has died in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in what appeared to be the first death of an American from the outbreak, The New York Times , citing a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Beijing.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the country is ready to spend up to $100 million to assist China and other countries impacted by coronavirus. “This commitment – along with the hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector – demonstrates strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak,” Pompeo said in a statement.
In India, 15 students who were stranded in Hubei province of China following the outbreak landed at the Cochin International Airport Limited and underwent a thermal screening for the infection , airport officials told PTI.
The students travelled to Bangkok from Kunming Airport and then took an Air Asia flight to reach Kochi at 11 pm on Friday. They were directly taken to the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital in five sterilised ambulances.
The outbreak of the disease is believed to have started in a market in the city of Wuhan that also sold wild animals.