The death toll in mainland China due to the mysterious new strain of coronavirus has notched up to 908 as on Monday morning. The authorities confirmed that there were 97 deaths added to the count on Sunday while 3,062 new confirmed cases were registered.
Ninety-one deaths were reported from Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, two from Anhui, and one each from Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Hainan and Gansu. A total of 910 people have died of the infection including 2 outside China in Hong Kong and the Philippines while 40,171 confirmed cases of the outbreak were reported in 31 provincial-level regions so far.
On Sunday, as many as 3,281 patients have been discharged from hospital after recovery. So far, over 630 people, including 356 in Hubei, have been discharged, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the health commission as saying.
Chinese authorities have designated the new virus with the temporary name of "Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia" (NCP). The World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to assign it a permanent name.
Monday’s rise was a turnaround from a significant reduction in new cases reported Sunday, 2,656, down by about 20% from the 3,399 new cases reported in the previous 24-hour period. That had prompted optimism that the “joint control mechanism of different regions and the strict prevention and control measures have worked,” in the words of a spokesman for the National Health Commission, Mi Feng.
Also Sunday, new cases were reported in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, the U.K. and Spain. More than 360 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China.
“Dramatic reductions” in the pace of the disease’s spread should begin this month if containment works, Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, said in an online news conference on Sunday. He assisted the World Health Organization and Chinese authorities during the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Warmer weather will reduce the virus’s ability to spread and bring people out of enclosed spaces where it is transmitted more easily, Lipkin said. However, he said, if new cases spike as people return to work after the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, then “we’ll know we’re in trouble.”
The new U.K. case was the nation’s fourth, while Spain reported its second, as European authorities sought to contain the spread of the virus by tracking down people who came into contact with those infected.
Both of the new cases were acquired during trips to France, officials said.
The new U.K. case is a known contact of a previously confirmed case there, the country’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said, adding that experts “continue to work hard tracing patient contacts.”
In Spain, authorities were working to identify everyone who came into contact with a British man whose case was detected in Mallorca, a popular vacation island in the Mediterranean Sea, Spain’s National Microbiology Center said.
The fatality toll has passed the 774 people believed to have died of SARS, another viral outbreak that originated in China. The total of 37,198 confirmed cases of the new virus vastly exceeds the 8,098 sickened by SARS.
Japan reported six more cases among 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the number of infections on the vessel to 69. The new cases are an American passenger in her 70s and five crew members — four Filipinos and a Ukrainian.
South Korea reported a new case in a 73-year-old woman whose relatives visited Guangdong province in southern China, raising its total to 27. The family members, a 51-year-old South Korean man and a 37-year-old Chinese woman, were confirmed infected later Sunday.
Vietnam reported its 14th case. The Health Ministry said she is a 55-year-old woman in Vinh Phuc province, northwest of Hanoi, where six earlier patients were found to be infected.
Malaysia reported its 17th case. The 65-year-old woman’s son-in-law was diagnosed earlier with the virus.
Spain confirmed its second case in Mallorca, a popular vacation island in the Mediterranean. The first case was a German tourist diagnosed a week ago in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa.
The 1,800 passengers and 1,800 crew members of the cruise ship Dream World were released from quarantine after Hong Kong authorities said tests of the crew found no infections.
The ship was isolated after eight mainland Chinese passengers were diagnosed with the disease last month.
Port official Leung Yiu-hon said some passengers with symptoms tested negative but there was no need to test all of them because they had no contact with the infected Chinese passengers.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong began enforcing a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from mainland China. The territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has refused demands by some hospital workers and others to seal the border completely.
The mother of a physician who died last week in Wuhan said in a video released Sunday she wants an explanation from authorities who reprimanded him for warning about the virus in December.
The death of Li Wenliang, 34, prompted an outpouring of public anger at Wuhan officials. Some postings left on his microblog account said officials should face consequences for mistreating Li.
“My child was summoned by the Wuhan Police Bureau at midnight. He was asked to sign an admonishment notice,” Lu Shuyun said in the video distributed by Pear Video, an online broadcast platform. “We won’t give up if they don’t give us an explanation.”
The video shows flowers in her home with a note that says, “Hero is immortal. Thank you.”