Coronavirus: Death toll climbs to 106 as China tightens measures
The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, some people can experience shortness of breath and need hospital treatment.
The effect of the coronavirus family on humans has long been observed mainly in the form of the common cold. In recent decades though, more serious coronaviruses – like Sars or Mers – have proven potentially deadly to humans.
The death toll from the new coronavirus now stands at 106, as cases of new infections have almost doubled in a day, Chinese authorities said.
The number of total confirmed cases in China rose to 4,515 as of 27 January, up from 2,835 a day earlier.
Travel restrictions have been tightened and wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some cities. The city of Wuhan is at the epicentre of the outbreak but it has spread across China and internationally.
Wuhan, and the Hubei province it is located in, are already effectively in a lockdown with transport restrictions in and out of the area.
On Monday, authorities in Beijing confirmed a 50-year-old man had died – the first fatality in the Chinese capital from the virus.
The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine. Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province with the victims being elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems.
A total of 60 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery, according to Chinese state media.
The outbreak of the virus comes during the Lunar New Year celebration which usually sees millions travel across the country to visit relatives and friends.
In the last 24 hours:
• Beijing and Shanghai have introduced a 14-day observation period for people arriving from Hubei
• Authorities have postponed the new semester for schools and universities nationwide, without giving a resumption date
• China Railway Group said would suspends hundreds of train lines throughout the country
• The immigration administration has encouraged citizens to reconsider the timing of overseas travel to reduce cross-border movement.
In Wuhan, travel from the city of 11 million people has been severely restricted and non-essential vehicles have been banned from the roads. The city’s mayor though said about five million people had already left the city ahead of the holidays and before the lockdown.
Several major cities have suspended public transport systems, taxis and ride-hailing services. The Disneyland attraction parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong have both been closed.
The new coronavirus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan and can now spread between people.
Chinese authorities over the weekend said the virus was – like a normal flu – able to spread during its incubation period and before any symptoms appeared. This would set it apart from cases like Sars and Ebola and make it much harder to contain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) though said on Monday it remained unclear whether the virus was contagious before symptoms appear.
The United States, which has also had several infected cases, has urged its nationals to “reconsider travel” to China and is advising against travel to Hubei. The country plans to fly consular staff and US citizens out of Wuhan in the coming days.
Many other countries have also warned against any non-essential travel to China while some are planning to help their citizens in Wuhan out of the country. The Philippines on Tuesday announced they would stop issuing visas on arrival for Chinese travelers.