The number of people infected with coronavirus topped 110,000 across the world as of Monday (March 9) and over 3,800 have died as the outbreak reached more countries and caused more economic damage.
The flu-like virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan late last year and has since spread to more than 90 countries. While new infections have slowed in China, there are concerns other countries are not prepared. More than 25,000 people have been infected and 503 have died from coronavirus outside mainland China as of Monday.
A graphic created by Reuters illustrates the spread of the virus from the epicentre of Wuhan across the world from January 1 to March 9, 2020.
The data is collected from the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), China’s National Health Commission (NHC), and the Chinese medical community website DXY that combines data from China’s NHC and CDC. (REUTERS CONNECT)
China continues to see positive signs that its epidemic control measures are proving successful, with the country reporting just 11 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease outside the epicenter Hubei Province on Monday.
The recovery rate of the coronavirus remains promising, with 2,742 people being discharged from hospitals across the country on Monday after recovering, while the number of severe cases decreased by 304 to 6,806.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday paid a visit to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in Beijing and stressed the need to advance scientific research into COVID-19 so as to provide greater support for winning the battle against the epidemic.
Xi also learned about the progress of research into the virus and about the application of potential vaccines, anti-bodies, and medicines as well as the fast testing kits used to detect the disease.
There was more good news when two elderly patients, both aged in their late nineties, were discharged from hospitals in Wuhan over the past two days after recovery from their respective infections.
One of them was a 98-year-old man surnamed Hu who was on Sunday discharged from the purpose-built Leishenshan Hospital, while the other was a 97-year-old woman who was discharged from Wuhan’s Xiehe Hospital on Saturday.
While medical staff are risking their lives to save others, more and more people have stepped forward as volunteers to take care of the relatives of frontline medical workers who have been transferred to Wuhan from across China, helping put their minds at ease while looking out for their families’ needs.
In Chongqing Municipality of southwest China, for example, more than 7,700 volunteers have been helping the families of about 4,500 medical workers who were sent to fight the epidemic in local hospitals or in the epicenter Hubei Province.
The volunteers not only help with the daily routines of the family members, but also attend to the other needs of seniors and children.
Among those helping is Wu Hongmei, who has been regularly offering fresh food for the parents-in-law and the daughter of doctor He Wei, who is now aiding the efforts in Hubei.
Doctor He left for Xiaogan on Jan. 26, while his wife, also a doctor, has been busy working at a local hospital.
Wu has been taking care of the He’s family since late January and, in addition to sending them food and medical supplies, she also cheerfully chats with them like a member of the family on each visit.
In order to prevent the risk of pollution from medical staff, an environmental protection company in Wuhan City has been processing the medical waste of hospitals that admit patients infected with the virus.
On January 23, Wuhan authorities quickly called upon the Wuhan North Lake Yunfeng Environmental Protection Technology company to offer its services as a backup for disposing of medical waste, as the facility can burn up to 15 tons of waste per day.
When processing the waste, the workers have to do it manually as the machines aren’t made for such delicate work. However, this potentially adds risk as the workers are in close contact with the medical waste. As a result, workers take extra precautions and disinfect every step of the way.
“Since the materials are in small, fragile packages that cannot be processed by our mechanical feeding systems as they will break easily, which will increase the risk of getting infected, we have to do it like this. Our staff members pour the waste into the duct. The danger of the process is close contact with the medical waste. So, we will disinfect the medical waste upon arrival and then pour it into our processing system. Then we will disinfect the empty buckets before loading them back onto the trucks,” said Mei Gang, general manager of the company.
Support also continues to pour in from overseas, with some hailing China’s efforts in curbing the epidemic and noting how the country’s experiences are worth learning from.
“We highly praise China’s efforts in epidemic control and prevention, especially its good cooperation with the World Health Organization. Relevant organizations have carried out cooperation through different channels to share information and experiences. Research made by China in this area has also benefited the world a lot,” said Mohammed Alabdu-Alaly, spokesman, Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia.
“The experience of China is very important for us. The Ministry of Health of China provided us with a technical document, the updating technical document on the procedures that China are working to control the coronavirus, and we will study this document, and we will contact the representative here (in China) in Ministry of Health via Skype or video to exchange our experience and to ask them if we need any more details,” said Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed.
Others are confident that China’s economy will recover despite the severity of the epidemic, and are encouraged by the future prospects.
“It is also good for business that China has taken these steps, because the recovery will lead to once again the re-connection, re-establishment of business ties between China and South Africa and the African continent. But all in all, we wish the people of China a speedy recovery,” Iqbal Surve, Executive Chairman, Independent Media Group in South Africa.
As business slowly returns to normal across China, another batch of major projects have also restarted their construction work with various measures put in place to prevent and control the spread of the virus, among them are the construction of the Beijing-Xiongan expressway, railway bridge and shale gas production.
While the domestic situation continues to make progress, China has also showed its support to other countries which are seeing a growing number of confirmed cases such as South Korea.
“China and South Korea are friendly neighbors who assist each other and share weal and woe. Since the epidemic of the novel coronavirus-caused pneumonia broke out, the two countries have encouraged and supported each other, truly meriting the names of ‘a community of shared destiny, and a community of shared goal of defeating the epidemic.’ According to incomplete statistics, people from all social circles in South Korea and Chinese-funded entities in South Korea have donated more than 200 million yuan (about 29 million U.S. dollars). We are deeply grateful for this,” said Xing Haiming, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea. (Reuters Connect)
Deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday (February 29).
As several countries in the Middle East reported cases of the coronavirus stemming from Iran, the country is at the epicentre of the outbreak in the region.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned on Friday (February 28) of “a very difficult week” ahead in Iran, which only announced its first infections and deaths from the coronavirus on February 19 and where the death rate among confirmed cases has been around 10%, compared to around 3% elsewhere.
Coronavirus prevention posters have been placed across Tehran as many people are seen wearing protective face masks.
Tehran has ordered the shutting of schools until Tuesday (March 3) and the government has extended the closure of universities and a ban on concerts and sports events for a week.
Several high-ranking officials, including a vice minister, deputy health minister and five lawmakers, have tested positive for the coronavirus as outbreak forced Iran’s clerical rulers to close the parliament and impose internal travel bans.
One lawmaker, elected in Iran’s February 21 polls, had died of the coronavirus, Iranian media reported on Saturday.
Iran’s foreign ministry advised Iranians to avoid trips to South Korea, which reported 594 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, taking its tally to 2,931 cases.
Saudi Arabia is now the only Gulf Arab state not to have reported any cases of the coronavirus, which has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,800, mostly in China. (WANA via Reuters Connect)
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