Health Care

Coronavirus death toll passes 1,500 in mainland China

Coronavirus death toll passes 1,500 in mainland China”

Cases in mainland China rose to 63,851 by the end of Thursday - up 5,090 from the day before - as the death toll reached 1,380, up by 121, the country's National Health Commission said.

The virus is thought to have infected more than 67,000 people globally and has killed at least 1,526 people, the vast majority in China, as the Chinese government announced new anti-disease measures while businesses reopen following sweeping controls that have idled much of the economy.

"We have always known that there are more coronavirus infections than indicated by the number of confirmed cases, partly because not everyone who has got pneumonia has been tested, and partly because many people with the coronavirus infection don't have pneumonia and are not eligible to be tested, and are not even eligible to be considered for testing in general", he said.

The official Beijing Daily newspaper said people failing to obey government orders to quarantine themselves on return from the holidays would be punished.

One patient in Hong Kong, three in Macao and one in Taiwan have been discharged from hospital after recovery.

Those who violate the new quarantine rules may face legal repercussions. It was unclear how authorities would enforce the measure.

Chinese authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei and its capital Wuhan under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping visits areas affected by the coronavirus.

Battling the outbreak is a "big test for the country's governance system and governance ability", Xi said in a Communist Party central committee meeting on Friday.

The government must "increase use of police force and strengthen the visible use of police", to ensure stability during the crisis, Xi said in a February 3 speech published by state media on Saturday.

Patients "clinically diagnosed" through lung imaging are now included, in addition to those that have shown up positive after laboratory analysis.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the virus poses a "grave threat" to the world, with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying the virus could have "more powerful consequences than any terrorist action".

"Crucially, we understand that most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself", said head of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) health emergencies programme Mike Ryan.

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