With more than 100 more deaths and nearly 5,000 new infections, China’s coronavirus shows no signs of peaking. In Cambodia, passengers disembarked from a cruise ship after virus fears kept them from five countries.
The official death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China’s Hubei province rose by 116 on Friday, bringing the total death toll to 1,380.
Most of the deaths occurred in Wuhan, the province’s capital where the COVID-19 virus is believed to have originated late last year.
Authorities reported 4,823 new cases in Hubei, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 55,748, largely concentrated in Wuhan.
The increase in cases came after health authorities started counting cases diagnosed through new clinical methods. There are currently several hundred coronavirus cases in 27 countries outside of China.
European containment working
German Health Minister Jens Spahn told DW that within Europe, detection and containment of the virus was working.
“So far it’s just a regional epidemic outbreak in China, but we need to be sure that it does not become a real epidemic or a pandemic worldwide,” Spahn said.
Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States, told DW that he expects new cases of coronavirus to drop between late April and early May.
Cambodia welcomes cruise ship
In Cambodia, hundreds of passengers disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship, which had been stranded at sea over fears its passengers were infected with the virus.
The Holland America Line-operated ship received permission to dock at the port of Sihanoukville after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam turned the ship away.
The Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, departed Singapore in January, stopping in Hong Kong where 53 cases of the virus and one death had been confirmed.
It was denied port after 20 passengers were tested for COVID-19 after they reported stomach aches. The tests done at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh showed none had the virus.
“The real disease is fear, not the virus. We want to eliminate the fear of disease,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told Fresh News, an online news service close to his government. He said he allowed the ship to dock for humanitarian reasons.
Unlike many Asian nations, Cambodia has not banned direct flights to China. Sen said that a halt in service would damage bilateral relations between the two countries.
Japan lets quarantined cruise passengers disembark
Japanese authorities started letting people quarantined on board the Diamond Princess ship disembark on Friday to continue their confinement in government-designated lodging.
Elderly passengers in poor health or confined to windowless inner cabins were told they could leave, however only those who have tested negative have been allowed to disembark.
At least 218 people on board the ship have been diagnosed with COVID-19, of the 3,700 people on the ship.
aw, dv/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)