Coronavirus death toll reaches that of Sars as total hits 813 worldwide

Patients infected with the coronavirus are seen at a makeshift hospital converted from an exhibition centre in Wuhan on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Feb 9, 2020, SCMP. New deaths in China caused by the new coronavirus reached 89 on Saturday – a daily record – up from 86 fatalities on Friday, according to figures released early on Sunday by the country’s health authority, South China Morning Post reported.

The newly reported fatalities brought the global death toll to 813, matching the total attributed to the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic of 2002-03 by the World Health Organisation.

Newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the country rose by 2,656 on Saturday, down from 3,385 new cases on Friday, according to China’s National Health Commission (NHC). Accumulated cases in mainland China stood at 37,198.

Most deaths and newly confirmed cases were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, which reported 81 new deaths from the disease and 2,147 newly confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, according to the provincial health authority. That took the province’s total fatalities from the outbreak to 780 and total cases to 27,100 as of Saturday.

Among all the new cases announced early on Sunday morning, 1,379 infections were confirmed in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated at a seafood and meat market.
As the disease continues to spread around the world, some major cruise lines have joined airlines in suspending certain routes to and from China as well as barring some travellers in an attempt to curb the contagion.

Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced on Friday they would ban all travellers with Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passports, regardless of when or whether they have recently been to mainland China.

Four passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas ship were sent to a New Jersey hospital Friday morning after 27 travellers on board were screened for coronavirus when the ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, just south of New York City.

The Japanese Health Ministry reported Saturday that another three passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total of the infected passengers to 64. Including those on the cruise ship, the number of confirmed virus cases in Japan stood at 90 as of Saturday, the largest number of any country outside China.

The coronavirus emerged from China two months ago. Globally, 813 deaths have been reported as of Saturday. The first non-Chinese fatality from the virus was reported on Saturday, with the US embassy confirming that American citizen had died in a Wuhan hospital on Thursday.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry also reported Saturday that a Japanese citizen had also died in Wuhan, possibly from the coronavirus, the Yomiuri newspaper reported. The patient initially tested positive for the virus, but the hospital could not make a definite diagnosis and reported the cause of death as virus-related pneumonia.

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