China reports 1,886 new confirmed cases, 98 deaths as caution sounded on dropping Covid-19 infection figures

At a hospital in Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus outbreak originated. More than 73,000 people in Asia have caught the virus. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

(, Feb18’20) – China reported 1,886 new confirmed cases and 98 deaths from the still little understood Covid-19 infection on Feb 17 as the total figures of these across the mainland totaled 72,436 and 1,868 respectively. The total of suspected cases was 6,242, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 18. It added that 141,552 others were still under medical observation.

Hubei Province, the infection’s epicentre, accounted for 1,807 of the new confirmed cases and 93 of the new deaths on Feb 17.

China said daily new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outside Hubei had dropped for 14 consecutive days.

Meanwhile, China appeared to be set to postpone its annual congress scheduled to be held in Mar 2020, its biggest political meeting of the year, to avoid travel while the disease is still spreading. The standing committee of the National People’s Congress will meet Feb 24 to deliberate on a postponement of the meeting due to start Mar 5.

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With the number of new daily infections in mainland China having not been below 2,000 since Jan 30, and the daily death toll not having come under 100 since Feb 11, Chinese authorities said the stabilisation in the number of new cases on Feb 17 was a sign that tough measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect, noted Feb 18.

These news reports came as China’s state television reported that Liu Zhiming, director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, had died Feb 18 morning, becoming one of the latest fatalities of the epidemic.

French health minister Olivier Veran said on Feb 18 there was a “credible risk” the coronavirus outbreak could turn unto a pandemic, the report said.

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Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Chinese medical data showed that more than 80 percent of patients had mild symptoms and will recover, while 14 percent suffered from severe complications such as pneumonia, 5 percent were in critical condition and 2 percent had die from the disease.

“It appears that Covid-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS,” the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as telling reporters in Geneva, adding that officials were starting to get a clearer picture of the outbreak.

While noting that a “clearer picture of the outbreak, how it’s developing and where it’s headed,” Ghebreyesus has added, “It’s too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table.”

Also, Chinese health authorities have released an omnibus study of more than 70,000 confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases that suggests the epidemic was in decline by last week, but the scientific paper’s authors cautioned that infections could spike after people return to work following the extended Lunar New Year holiday, reported Feb 18.

However, despite the positive findings of the paper by the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Ghebreyesus remained cautious. “This trend must be interpreted very cautiously. Trends can change as new populations are affected,” he was quoted as saying.


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