In just a matter of days, the death toll from COVID-19 has risen from over 1,000 last week to more than 2,000 fatalities. The National Health Commission in China reported the latest figures on Wednesday, February 19th, after 136 more people had died.
The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China is now at 74,185. The National Health Commission stated that the numbers have declined for a second straight day.
More than 2,000 Fatalities Caused by Novel Coronavirus
Most of the reported deaths are in central Hubei province, Channel News Asia reported. Last December, the province is where the virus first emerged before spreading within and outside China.
Based on the daily update from China’s National Health Commission, there were 1,749 new cases in the past day — the lowest number this February. Majority of these cases were from Hubei, while only 56 cases were reported from outside the province.
On Tuesday, February 18th, a hospital director in the central Hubei city of Wuhan became the seventh medical practitioner to succumb to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have released a study revealing that majority of COVID-19 patients are considered as “mild” cases. They also mentioned that the decline in number of new cases indicates the outbreak is gradually getting under control.
Also on Tuesday, state media featured a phone call between President Xi Jinping and the British prime minister, wherein the president said that China’s measures have been leading to “visible progress.”
Nonetheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that it was still too early to tell if the numbers of cases will continue to go down.
Cruise Ship Passengers Eager to Leave
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship off Yokohama in Japan, are set to disembark starting Wednesday, February 19th — as long as they have tested negative after a 14-day quarantine, Channel News Asia reported.
The cruise ship is considered as the “largest cluster” of COVID-19 cases outside mainland China, with 542 confirmed cases. What started out as a dream cruise for 3,700 passengers and crew (coming from 56 nations) has turned into a fearful — and eventually boring — quarantine, with most of them confined to windowless cabins and going out on deck for brief periods only.
Through a letter, Japanese officials told passengers: “If you and your roommate are both negative and have no fever or respiratory symptoms, you will be able to prepare for disembarkation.”
The officials also said that it would take at least three days to process everyone, which means that passengers would have to endure longer periods of waiting.
One passenger, an American lawyer, said that he feels anxious and will not “celebrate” just yet. Likewise, a British passenger said that mentally, the long wait is getting to most of them, and that “not knowing” is a real challenge. Later, the same passenger shared that he and his wife were found to be COVID-19 positive.
Latest Figures on COVID-19
As of this writing, Channel News Asia reports that there are now 75,166 confirmed cases and 2,009 reported deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide. Majority of these are from mainland China with 74,185 confirmed cases and 2,004 deaths.
Meanwhile, five deaths were reported from other countries, with one fatality each in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, France, and the Philippines.
Indeed, although the numbers have been declining, it is too early to say whether China — and the rest of the world — are “out of danger.” As health experts scramble to develop effective treatments for COVID-19, let us also do our part by practicing good hygiene and learning how to protect ourselves from the novel coronavirus.