The toll in the novel coronavirus outbreak in China crossed the 1,000-mark on Monday, reported The South China Morning Post. Health authorities in China reported 108 fatalities, talking the toll to 1,018. Globally, the toll stands at 1,010 – one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines. This is the first time more than 100 people have died from the disease in a single day in China. Of the new deaths, 103 were in Hubei province – the epicentre of the epidemic – and five in other provinces.

The number of infections reached 42,638 in China. Hubei province reported 2,097 new confirmed cases. Monday’s number of new confirmed cases in the province was the lowest in nine days. On February 1, the province registered 1,921 new confirmed cases. Since then, the figure remained above 2,100.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance in Beijing amid the escalating public health crisis. He admitted that the epidemic had “exposed shortcomings in China’s disease prevention and control system”, reported Xinhua. “Xi called for intensified efforts to reduce the impact, and help for affected businesses to prevent major layoffs,” the state media quoted him as saying.

The virus is believed to have originated in a live seafood market in the province’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province. The novel coronavirus causes respiratory illness, and is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which had also emerged from China in 2002. SARS killed 774 people around the world. Its symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that the present situation may be just the “tip of the iceberg”. “There’s been some concerning instances of the coronavirus spread [abroad] from people with no travel history to China,” he said in a tweet. “The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.” The WHO team of experts will arrive in China on Monday night.

Ghebreyesus asked all countries to prepare for the arrival of the coronavirus and do their utmost to contain it. “This means lab capacity for rapid diagnosis, contact tracing and other tools in the public health arsenal,” he added. Ghebreyesus said 400 of the world’s leading medical experts will gather in Geneva, Switzerland, this week to accelerate research and innovation to combat the virus.