At least 25 people have died from the outbreak of a new respiratory virus in China, its National Health Commission said early Jan. 24.
The commission has recorded 830 confirmed cases nationwide since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Chinese officials on Dec. 31 in Wuhan city, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.
Only the Tibet and Qinghai autonomous regions have not reported cases.
The commission said 177 infected people are reportedly in serious condition.
According to reports, 24 of those who died were living in Wuhan.
The virus has spread to major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but the number of cases in Hubei alone has reached 444.
Health officials said the number of patients under observation has climbed to 8,420 and the number of those who are likely to carry the virus had risen to 1,072.
Authorities in Wuhan said the activities of all tourism agencies have been suspended.
It also announced that the opening dates of schools have been postponed.
The Ministry of Finance has allocated 1 billion yuan ($144 million) to combat the outbreak in Wuhan.
The virus is similar to the virus related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Airport and train stations in Wuhan were closed to outgoing passengers on Jan. 23 while public transportation was suspended in the city.
As of Jan. 23, the virus had been detected in one person in Hong Kong and one in Macao.
The virus was also confirmed in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
WHO says early to declare China virus global emergency
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Jan. 23 that now is not the time to declare a new virus that emerged in China a global health emergency.
Addressing a press conference after the committee meeting in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the emergency committee on the novel coronavirus met, and there was again a “split” over the decision as on the previous day.
“Make no mistake this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global emergency. It may become one,” Tedros said.
China was taking action to limit the spread of the virus, he said, and the WHO committee would be ready to reconvene depending on the situation.
Countries, where people have been affected by the virus, are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the U.S., and Vietnam, according to the global organization.
“We don’t know the sources of the virus and don’t fully understand its clinical severity,” said Tedros.
The coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV and which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, was identified in December in Wuhan, a central city of China, which has a population of 11 million.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and trouble breathing.
Authorities in Wuhan Thursday banned the use of public transport bid to combat the fatal coronavirus.
Huanggang, a city east of Wuhan, also shut down bus and rail services and encouraged people not to leave the city.
On Jan. 23, representatives of China’s Health Ministry and officials from Japan, Thailand and South Korea updated the committee on the situation in their countries, said the WHO.
“On Jan. 22, the members of the Emergency Committee expressed divergent views on whether this event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or not,” it added.
At that time, the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC, but the WHO said that committee members agreed on the urgency of the situation.
They “suggested that the committee should be reconvened in a matter of days to examine the situation further,” said the WHO.
Hurriyet Daily News