Covid-19 death toll jumps to over 1500

Grant Boone
February 15, 2020

The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523.

While the vast majority of infections and deaths have been in China, there have been almost 450 cases in some 24 countries and territories outside mainland China, and three deaths.

Six of the workers have died, Zeng Yixin, vice director of the National Health Commission, said.

In late January, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency in light of the outbreak.

In an unprecedented attempt to contain the disease, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities - home to more than 60 million people - under lockdown.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services with the country.

But the epidemic has continued to spread across China and hundreds of cases have emerged in more than two dozen countries.

In Singapore, which has 67 confirmed cases, the Roman Catholic Church said it was suspending all masses indefinitely to help prevent the spread of the virus and urged the faithful to follow services on YouTube or the radio.

The coronavirus death toll showed no signs of easing up on Saturday as the figure topped 1,500 after the Hubei province's health commission confirmed 139 more people had died.

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The total of confirmed infections across mainland China was now 66,492 after 2,641 new cases were confirmed, as of Friday, the commission said. Employees must wear masks all day and report their temperature twice a day.

The scale of the epidemic ballooned this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.

Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, now includes cases based on a physician's diagnosis before they have been confirmed by lab tests.

A WHO-led joint mission with China will start its outbreak investigation work this weekend, focusing on how the new coronavirus is spreading and its severity, its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

There were over 4,800 cases reported in Hubei on Friday and 2,420 on Saturday.

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Medics have made great sacrifices and braved the virus outbreak on the front line, Wang said, expressing respect to the medical workers.

Many countries, including Turkey, have evacuated their citizens from the city of Wuhan - the epicenter of the virus - and other affected areas of China, placing them under quarantine and monitoring.

On 7 February, the plight of medical workers was highlighted by the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital who had tried to issue the first warning about the virus on 30 December.

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