China on Thursday reported the least number of fatalities from the coronavirus, AFP reported. Just 114 people died on Wednesday, while 394 new cases were reported. So far, the coronavirus has killed 2,118 people in China. As many as 74,576 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported.

China’s National Health Commission said that 1,779 patients had recovered by Wednesday, bringing the total number of people who have recovered from the disease to 16,155, the South China Morning Post reported. Wednesday was the 16th straight day of fall in coronavirus cases outside Hubei province, and the seventh straight day of fall in cases within the province.

“The heavy-handed containment measures appear to be effective in stemming the further spread of the virus outside Hubei province,” Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

However, Chen Xi, assistant professor of health policy and economics at the Yale School of Public Health, said that it may be too early to conclude that the peak period is over. “While there has been a decline in the number of new confirmed cases and suspected cases, the increase in new cases continues to add to the demand for medical resources, although the discharge of recovered patients can help release some of these resources,” he said. Changes in diagnostic criteria brought down the number of cases from 615 to 359 in Hubei on Wednesday.

The Diamond Princess

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers disembarked from Japanese ship Diamond Princess, docked off Yokohoma since earlier this month, AFP reported. However, health officials said 79 new cases had been detected. Two of the patients died on Wednesday.

With 621 positive cases so far, the Diamond Princess is the biggest cluster of infected people outside China. Several countries, including the United States and Australia, have flown their citizens out to the home country. Those who tested negative for the virus began leaving the ship on Wednesday. However, many people whose test results are yet to arrive remained on board.

“Our last deep gratitude to the crews and captain for such an amazing care...during the epic crisis...we can’t wait to see you again soon on board again,” said passenger Yardley Wong, who left after spending 14 days in a small cabin with her six-year-old son.

On Wednesday, another Indian on board the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus. With this, seven Indians on the Diamond Princess have now tested positive for COVID-19.

First deaths in West Asia

Two people died in Iran on Wednesday after testing positive for the virus, AFP reported quoting the IRNA news agency. The deceased were Iranian citizens and residents of the city of Qom. These are the first deaths in West Asia.

“Following the recent cases of chronic respiratory diseases in Qom, two of the patients tested positive in preliminary tests,” Kianoush Jahanpour, a health ministry spokesperson said. “Unfortunately both passed away in the intensive care unit due to old age and issues with their immune system.”

Another official in Qom said people suspected of being infected with the coronavirus would be put into quarantine in two hospitals. Mohammadreza Ghadir, head of the city’s medical sciences unit, claimed that infections were under control in Qom.

The coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has now killed eight people outside China – two in Iran, two in Hong Kong, one in Taiwan, one in Japan, one in France and one in the Philippines.

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.