Coronavirus deaths rise past 800

The epidemic has prompted the government to lock down whole cities.

The epidemic has prompted the government to lock down whole cities.

AFP/Philip Fong

BEIJING - The death toll from the novel coronavirus surged past 800 in mainland China on Sunday, overtaking global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, even as the World Health Organization said the outbreak appeared to be "stabilising".

The latest data came after the WHO said the last four days had seen "some stabilising" in Hubei but warned it was "very early to make any predictions" and the figures can still "shoot up".

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Almost 37,200 people in China have now been infected by the new coronavirus, believed to have emerged late last year in a market that sold wild animals in Hubei's capital Wuhan, before spreading across the nation and to other countries.

The epidemic has prompted the government to lock down whole cities as anger mounts over its handling of the crisis, especially after a whistleblowing doctor fell victim to the virus.

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Michael Ryan, head of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said the "stable period" of the outbreak "may reflect the impact of the control measures that have been put in place".

The first foreign victim in China was confirmed this week when a 60-year-old American diagnosed with the virus died on Thursday in Wuhan, according to the US embassy.

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A Japanese man in his 60s with a suspected coronavirus infection also died in a hospital in the city.

The only fatalities outside the mainland have been a Chinese man in the Philippines and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.

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WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against misinformation, saying it made the work of healthcare staff harder.

"We're not just battling the virus, we're also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists that push misinformation and undermine the outbreak response," he said.

Source
AFP