Coronavirus – First Death Outside Wuhan Epicentre Reported

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WHO Decision: Coronavirus is spreading, but the organization says it is not a global emergency.

  1. At least 25 people have died and more than 800 have been sickened by the mysterious illness. The death toll increased by more than a half-dozen in 24 hours, while the number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 200.
  2. The travel restrictions imposed on Wuhan were extended to at least four more cities. The Chinese authorities on Thursday morning closed off Wuhan by cancelling flights and trains leaving the city, and suspending buses, subways and ferries within it. Late on Thursday, the local authorities also announced that they would suspend for-hire vehicles and limit taxis, beginning at noon on Friday.
  3. A patient died in the province of Hebei — more than 600 miles north of the city where the outbreak began.
  4. After two days of deliberations, an emergency committee convened by WHO decided not to declare a global health emergency — but planned to meet again within 10 days, acknowledging the “urgency” of the situation.
  5. Agency officials explained that although the disease has reached beyond China, the number of cases in other countries is still relatively small, and the disease does not seem to be spreading within those countries.
  6. Currently, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China.
  7. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency.
  8. Roughly 30,000 people fly out of Wuhan on an average day, according to air traffic data. Many more leave using ground transportation like trains and cars. Officials planned to also close off Huanggang, a city of seven million about 30 miles east of Wuhan, shut rail stations in the nearby city of Ezhou, which has about one million residents, and impose travel restrictions on the smaller cities of Chibi and Zhijiang. In Huanggang, public transportation and departing trains stopped at midnight. Residents are not allowed to leave the city without special permission, according to a government statement. In Ezhou, all rail stations were to be closed.
  9. The new virus, which first emerged at the end of December, has sickened people in Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.
  10. It has raised the spectre of a repeat of the SARS epidemic, which broke out in China in 2002 and 2003 and spread rapidly while officials obscured the seriousness of the crisis. That virus eventually killed more than 800 people worldwide.

Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA