The toll in China’s coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,770 on Sunday, as 105 new fatalities were reported in Monday morning’s daily update, according to South China Morning Post. The country also reported 2,048 new confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed cases across the country now stands at 70,548. The global toll as of midnight on Sunday stood at 1,775.
In Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, 1,933 new confirmed cases were reported. Of the 105 new deaths, 100 were from the Hubei province.
There has been a significant drop in the number of new cases since Friday. Mi Feng, the spokesperson for the National Health Commission, on Sunday said the proportion of people confirmed to be infected who were critically ill had fallen to 22% on Saturday, from 32% on January 27. Mi claimed that the figures indicated that “the effect of the coronavirus controls is appearing”.
However, global concern remained high after the United States announced that more than three dozen Americans on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan were infected. The Indian Embassy in Japan on Sunday said that two more Indians aboard the British cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus. The embassy said the two people were among 137 fresh cases reported on the ship between Saturday and Sunday, taking the total number of infected people to 355.
The coronavirus is considered to have originated in a live seafood market in the province’s Wuhan city. Infection symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It 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.
The World Health Organization has officially named the virus COVID-19. The Chinese government has begun to convert stadiums into medical shelters due to the shortage of hospitals. Jiao Yahui, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said patients with mild symptoms are being sent to these shelters, so that hospital beds could be freed for more serious cases.
On Sunday, WHO said it was impossible to predict “which direction this epidemic will take”, reported AFP. International experts have arrived in Beijing and begun meeting with their Chinese counterparts over the epidemic, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said they had not yet received an invitation to send experts to the country.
Epidemic could hamper global growth in 2020, says IMF
The International Monetary Fund on Sunday warned that epidemic could hamper global economic growth this year. “There may be a cut that we are still hoping would be in the 0.1%-0.2% space,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai. In January, the International Monetary Fund had said that global growth would reach 3.3% in 2020, compared to 2.9% in 2019 – which was the slowest pace since the financial crisis a decade ago.
Georgieva said the full impact of the disease would depend on how quickly it is contained. “It is too early to say because we don’t yet quite know what is the nature of this virus,” she added. “We don’t know how quickly China will be able to contain it. We don’t know whether it will spread to the rest of the world. If the disease is contained rapidly, there can be a sharp drop and a very rapid rebound.”
The IMF chief pointed out that China’s economy made up just 8% of the global economy in 2002 when the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, had hit the country. Now, it accounts for 19%.