Nearly 60,000 COVID-19 Cases In China; Infections Abroad Reach 500 – Viet Nam Quarantines Community Of 10,000 People

A total of 59,907 cases of the new COVID-19 coronavirus have now been reported in China, according to the latest Chinese government data, posted as of midnight Thursday Beijing time. There was also a steep 48-hour increase in deaths from the disease inside China, now standing at 1,368. The second death outside of China, of a woman in her 80s, was reported Thursday in Japan. Elsewhere, the number of infected people hit 500, with cases scattered across 24 countries as of midnight Thursday Beijing time.

But to cope with the cases abroad, authorities continued to take drastic measures, with Viet Nam reported to be quarantining the Son Loi commune of some 10,000 people about 40 kilometers from Hanoi after six cases were discovered there. It was the first case of a mass quarantine outside of China since the virus began to spread, reported the Singaporean news channel CNA.

 

“This increase that you have seen in the past 24 hours is largely due to a change in how cases are being diagnosed and reported,” said WHO’s Emergencies Director, Mike Ryan, at a press briefing Thursday, explaining the huge leap in case reports in Hubei Province, the epidemic epicentre.  “We need to be very careful in interpreting any extremes.” He noted that some of the increase is also attributable to clinical cases reported days or even weeks ago, but only included now in the official data, after the reporting criteria was changed.

Government-reported data for COVID-19 cases in China, on a popular health workers website, as of 16:51 Central European Time.

Experts were also closely watching the situation in the two biggest COVID-19 hot spots outside of China.  On the Princess Diamond Cruise ship, where more than 3600 passengers and crew remained quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama harbor, a total of 218 passengers were reported on Thursday to be positive for the virus, a leap of 44 cases since Wednesday. Singapore, the next largest cluster, was reporting 58 cases Thursday evening, 11 more than Wednesday. Original contacts for some of the Singaporeans falling ill cannot be traced back to travel to or from China. This has sparked fears that wider community-based spread of the virus may be occurring, making Singapore the next test ground for virus containment.

Meanwhile, an international team of experts organized by WHO in collaboration with the Chinese government was set to head for Beijing to support the disease control and research effort.

Ryan declined to say if American experts from the US Centers for Disease Control or elsewhere, would take part: “There is a multinational team from all over the world, who will go to the field and that has been agreed,” he said, speaking at WHO’s Thursday press briefing. “They should begin flying over the weekend.  I won’t go into the details of their nationalities or their names…

“Once an offer is made, then the sending country has to finally accept to send, so I am not going to prempt any final decision by the sending countries. But I can assure you that the team is top-class scientists from all over the world and all of the countries that can contribute to an endeavour like this.”

For our full report, see here:

Image Credits: CNA News, Dingxiangyuan.