The toll in the coronavirus epidemic in China rose to 1,868, with 98 more deaths on the mainland, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday. Of these, 93 deaths were reported from Hubei, the worst-affected province in China. As many as 1,886 new coronavirus cases were reported in the country, taking the total number to 72,436.
China’s National Health Commission said that as of Monday, 1,701 patients had recovered from the illness. Meanwhile, Ili, an autonomous prefecture for Kazakh people living in Xinjiang, has told citizens to stay home in a move to contain the novel coronavirus. “Health care workers as well as production and operation staff of key enterprises will work in closed operations,” a letter published online said. “Please rest assured the government will increase the procurement and distribution of daily necessities and medical supplies to ensure that normal life is not affected.”
The first batch of Taiwanese returned to their homes on Tuesday after isolated in quarantine for 14 days at three centres on the island. Only one person, a businessman, tested positive for the virus and was immediately sent for treatment. Around 700 Taiwanese are still stranded in Hubei province.
The Japanese government said on Tuesday that all tourists stranded on board the ship Diamond Princess have now been tested for the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19. All passengers who have tested negative will be allowed to leave the ship by Tuesday, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday according to the Japan Times.
Kato said disembarkation from the cruise liner docked at Yokohama port would start Wednesday, when the two-week quarantine period ends, and be completed by Friday. He said the ship’s crew will also be tested. Kato’s announcement came even as Canada and South Korea prepared to send chartered flights to evacuate their citizens from the ship. There are 14 South Koreans and a Japanese spouse on the ship, but ten of the South Koreans have refused to be rescued as they live in Japan.
The United States and Australia have already evacuated their citizens.
“We have done tests for everyone,” Kato told the media in Tokyo according to AFP. “Some results have already come out... and for those whose test results are already clear, we are working to prepare disembarkation from the 19th.” The crew will observe another quarantine period after the passengers leave Diamond Princess.
At least 60 out of 64 suspected cases have tested negative for the COVID-19 in Maharashtra, PTI reported on Monday. Passengers arriving at the Mumbai airport are being screened as a preventive measure. A government health official said 59 out of the 60 persons have been discharged from hospital. The remaining five people have been admitted to state-run hospitals in Mumbai and Sangli.
As many as 406 returnees from China who were placed in quarantine by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in West Delhi have been released, The Indian Express reported. On Monday, the 406 people were given certificates saying they had tested negative for COVID-19, and were allowed to leave the facility. A team of 45 doctors conducted two rounds of tests before releasing the returnees.
The group – 186 women, 209 men and 11 children – included a large number of medical students from Hubei University of Medicine in Shiyan, around 450 km from the epicentre Wuhan. While two persons left the ITBP facility on Monday, others are set to leave in the coming days.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that 220 people who were quarantined shall be discharged from the Indian Army facility in Manesar on Tuesday, ANI reported. All 220 individuals have tested negative for COVID-19. There have only been three positive cases in India so far – all in Kerala.
However, a couple from Uttar Pradesh, stuck in Wuhan, has sent an SOS to the Indian government to rescue them, NDTV reported. Ashish Yadav, an associate professor at the Wuhan Textile University and his wife Neha, a PhD scholar, could not be evacuated on the Air India flights sent to China earlier this month, because Neha was undergoing a surgery.
“Namaste, my name is Ashish Yadav and this is my wife Neha Yadav,” the man said in a clip that NDTV accessed. “I am an associate professor in the Wuhan Textile University. “I appeal to the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] to evacuate us from here soonest.” The two-minute video also shows Ashish Yadav saying that the couple is running out of supplies.
Meanwhile, prices of paracetamol, the most commonly used analgesic, have risen by 40% in India this month, Bloomberg reported quoting Zydus Cadila Chairperson Pankaj Patel. Prices of azithromycin, an antibiotic used for treating a many bacterial infections, have risen by 70%.
WHO warns against ‘overreaction’
The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned against an “overreaction” to the epidemic. There has been panic-buying, event cancellations and anxiety about travelling on cruise ships as China’s toll nears 1,900, AFP reported. Trade fairs, sports competitions and cultural events have been disrupted, while several countries have banned travellers from China.
“Measures should be taken proportional to the situation,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. “Blanket measures may not help.”