Coronavirus death toll surpasses 1,000

World Tuesday 11/February/2020 18:46 PM
By: Times News Service
Coronavirus death toll surpasses 1,000

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China topped 1,000 on Tuesday, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that countries worldwide must not let the epidemic get out of control.

Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported another 103 deaths, while five more were reported outside of Hubei, bringing the total number of deaths in mainland China to 1,016 in the highest single-day toll since the virus began to spread.

There are now more than 42,000 confirmed cases in China as well as 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to the WHO and Chinese health officials.

The outbreak poses a "very grave threat for the rest of the world," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday, addressing over 400 researchers and national authorities at the start of a two-day meeting designed to agree on a roadmap towards finding a cure and vaccine for the virus.

"The bottom line is solidarity, solidarity, solidarity. That is especially true in relation to sharing of samples and sequences," Tedros said. "To defeat this outbreak, we need open and equitable sharing, according to the principles of fairness and equity."

China's president hits the streets of Beijing

In China, President Xi Jinping called for more "decisive" measures to tackle the outbreak, in a visit to a frontline hospital in Beijing. Xi wore a face mask and had his temperature checked while visiting medical workers and patients affected by the outbreak. He also said the situation was still "very grave," according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government will consider placing tracking devices on anyone who violates the regulations of their quarantine. She has also called for "social cohesion" amid the outbreak and urged residents to stay home as much as possible.

Hazy financial outlook

The outbreak is also creating a grim outlook for China's economic growth rate, which could decrease by as much as one percentage point in 2020, according to a senior member of a Chinese government think tank.

Zeng Gang, vice chair of the National Institute for Finance and Development, compared the current crisis with the SARS epidemic of 2003, when China's growth was reduced by about two percentage points over one fiscal quarter.

"At present, according to different scenario assumptions, researchers expect the negative impact of the epidemic on full-year GDP growth to be in the range of 0.2% to 1%," he said. However, if the official response to the epidemic is swift and effective, long-term growth trends might not be significantly affected.

He also added that the "employment situation is not optimistic," regarding potential problems following economic stress placed on small companies due to the virus.

Meanwhile, the Diamond Princess cruise ship, holding more than 3,700 passengers and crew on board, was still quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with an additional 65 cases reported. The number of confirmed cases on the vessel is now up to 135.