China's fight against novel coronavirus outbreak

Xiao Yijiu  Xinhua via AP

COVID-19 has taken a growing toll of Chinese health workers on the front line of the fight to stop it, a top official said yesterday, as authorities reported more than 5,000 new cases, including more than 120 deaths.

The number of those detected with the virus outside China's mainland has reached 53 in Hong Kong and 10 in Macau. This means that people have shown clinical symptoms of the new disease, but are yet to be tested positive.

"The goal of the joint mission is to rapidly inform the next steps in the COVID-19 response and preparedness activities in China and globally", he said, referring to the medical name for the acute respiratory disease caused by the virus.

It has spread to more than 20 other countries including the USA, the U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.

About 55,748 people were being treated, while 1,380 people have died of the coronavirus that emerged in December past year in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province.

"People are thought to be the most contagious when they are most symptomatic, that is when they are the sickest", she added.

In the United States, the number of confirmed cases increased to 15 after the first case was diagnosed in Texas.

China reported Thursday an additional 13,332 clinically confirmed coronavirus cases in the Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, according to WHO.

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"So we are not dealing, from what we understand, with a spike in cases of 14,000 on one day", Ryan said.

The plight of the cruise ship off Japan with more than 200 coronavirus infections and the shunning of another luxury liner by five ports despite no known cases has led to a sharp change in tack for an industry in shock: avoid Asia.

Yesterday, some of the passengers on the Diamond Princess were allowed to disembark - with priority for older passengers confined to windowless cabins - and complete their quarantine on shore.

Ryan was asked to respond to a comment by Larry Kudlow, the director of U.S. President Donald Trump's Economic Council, who told reporters Thursday, "We're a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese".

WHO's head of health emergencies stresses need to avoid "politicizing" the outbreak. As of Thursday, more than 250 new deaths were reported within 24 hours, according to the World Health Organization's most recent situation report. The ministry statement said the person was hospitalized and in isolation.

A Chinese train attendant and medical worker gesture to each other across the glass, as the train prepares to depart for the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Experts fear the outbreak could become a pandemic, where there are outbreaks on more than one continent.

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