Coronavirus still an emergency for China, says World Health Organization chief

Grant Boone
February 16, 2020

On Friday, Egypt reported the first infection on the African continent.

Xi's remarks were made public as the authorities face rare bouts of public anger over the handling of an epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people and infected some 66,000 across the country.

"Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as risky", he said.

The news comes as the death toll from coronavirus - also known as Covid-19 - in mainland China passed 1,500 after health authorities reported another 143 deaths early on Saturday morning, taking the total to 1,523 deaths.

Officials, however, explained that the new cases reflect a new methodology adapted by officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, where a patient is diagnosed by a physician before they are officially confirmed by laboratory tests. The virus has so far spread to more than two dozen countries.

A health official appealed to travellers to check themselves and report others who have symptoms. Meanwhile, the United States was preparing to fly home Americans passengers quarantined aboard a cruise ship in Japan.

The 80-year-old Chinese tourist who died in France was hospitalized January 25 with a lung infection, according to Health Minister Agnes Buzyn.

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But he has also acknowledged that the administration didn't necessarily know when and where future attacks were being planned. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., notably crossed party lines today alongside six other Republicans.

Infection disease expert Dr Sanjaya Senanayake said extensive research has found the virus - named Covoid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) - could be seasonal and reappear next year.

Total volume of daily travellers is down 80% from past year, according to a deputy transportation minister, Liu Xiaoming.

The state-owned banking industry has provided more than 537 billion yuan ($77 billion) in credit to industries such as retail, catering and tourism that have been hurt most, according to Liang Tao, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. The other cases were not a source of concern, Buzyn said earlier.

The number, however, was nearly half those reported the previous day.

He said: "China has changed the way it has counted cases which has muddied the waters a little bit".

Chinese scientists are also testing two antiviral drugs.

Hubei added nearly 14,000 cases in a single day this week after officials there started counting people clinically diagnosed through lung imaging, in addition to those with a positive lab test result.

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