Mainland China on Sunday reported 2,009 new coronavirus infections, with 142 new deaths, taking its totals to 68,500 and 1,665 respectively.
The numbers, for Saturday, included 139 deaths – the same as for the previous day – in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak. The central province also accounted for 1,843 of the newly confirmed cases, with 1,548 of those in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the outbreak was believed to have started at a seafood and meat market in December.
Hubei’s new infections – down from the previous day, when it reported 2,420 – took its total to 56,249, with 1,596 deaths. The province had on Thursday begun including cases identified by clinical diagnosis, having previously counted only positive results from test kits, which have been in short supply.
Mi Feng, a spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, told a press conference in Beijing that measures taken to control the spread of the coronavirus had shown clear results. He said the proportion of infected people who were seriously ill had dropped significantly in Wuhan, Hubei and the country as a whole.
Taiwan reports first death
A 60-year-old man who had a chronic disease died of complications from pneumonia and septicaemia on Saturday, becoming Taiwan’s first death from the coronavirus, Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.
“The man had not travelled abroad. Because Singapore has reported quite a few examples of coronavirus with no travel history we decided to check if he was infected and found he tested positive for the virus,” Chen said.
He said the man had worked as an unlicensed taxi driver, and his passengers were mostly from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Chen said the quarantine and health authorities immediately traced people he had contacted, including his family and the medical personnel who treated him.
The medical personnel tested negative for the virus but one of the man’s relatives had been infected, but was showing no symptoms.
In all, Taiwan has had 20 confirmed cases of the disease, with one death and two people discharged from hospital.
Lockdown in rural Hubei
All villages in Hubei will go into lockdown in a fresh escalation of measures to contain the epidemic, provincial authorities announced on Sunday.
Under the new rules, all villages will be sealed off with only one guarded entrance, all residents and vehicles from outside the communities will be banned from entering, and one person from each household will be allowed out every three days to buy supplies.
Residents who do go outdoors should keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from each other. Mahjong and card games are banned, weddings should be postponed, and funerals should be as simple as possible, according to the provincial government.
70 more infections on cruise ship
The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which remains quarantined in a dock in Yokohama, Japan, has risen to 355, up 70 from the last government count, the country’s health minister said on Sunday.
“So far, we have conducted tests for 1,219 individuals. Of those, 355 people tested positive. Of those, 73 individuals are not showing symptoms,” Katsunobu Kato told public broadcaster NHK.
Canada has chartered a plane to evacuate its citizens from the ship, the Canadian government said in a statement late on Saturday.
Canadian passengers who exhibit symptoms of infection will not be allowed to board the flight and will instead be transferred to the Japanese health care system, the government said. Passengers who fly to Canada will enter a 14-day quarantine on arrival.
Nepalese students leave Wuhan
Nepal on Sunday said it had evacuated 175 of its nationals from Wuhan, after protests by parents of students studying in the city.
A plane operated by state-owned Nepal Airlines, carrying 134 men and 41 women, mostly students, landed in Kathmandu on Sunday morning, a health ministry spokesman said. All evacuees will be held in quarantine for two weeks in the nearby town of Bhaktapur.
Last week, parents protested in front of the health ministry demanding that Nepali students in Wuhan be brought home sooner. The government said delays were due to the time needed to prepare buildings for quarantine.
Nepal has reported only one confirmed case of coronavirus so far.
400 Chinese fly home from Vietnam
About 400 Chinese citizens stuck in Vietnam returned to China on three Vietnam Airlines flights on Saturday, People’s Daily reported.
Separately, the Chinese embassy in Vietnam said 11 Chinese nationals from Hubei – much of which has been in lockdown since late January – had returned to Wuhan last Monday on a Vietnam Airlines flight that also carried donated materials.
WHO: response not just a job for health ministers
On Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged countries to adopt a governmentwide response to the coronavirus.
“This is not a job for health ministers alone. It takes a whole-of-government approach,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. “That approach must be coherent and coordinated, guided by evidence and public health priorities.”
The WHO chief again praised China, saying the steps taken by the Beijing government were encouraging.
“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time,” he said. “We’re encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread community transmission.”
Outside China, the death toll attributable to the virus remained at four as of Saturday.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse and Reuters
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