(TibetanReview.net, Feb07’20) – The daily number of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus pneumonia cases and deaths continue to remain high with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying Feb 6 there was no sign of the outbreak peaking. “We are still in the middle of an intense outbreak,” Reuters Feb 6 quoted Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, as saying.
By the end of Feb 6, a total of 636 people had died of the disease and 31,161 confirmed cases of the infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 7.
Enormously higher figures put out briefly by Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company Tencent on its webpage titled “Epidemic Situation Tracker” on Feb 1 is suspected to have been an inadvertent leak of actual figures.
It was stated to have showed confirmed cases in China standing at 154,023 – over 10 times the official figure given to the world on Feb 1. It also briefly listed the number of deaths at 24,589 – way higher than the over 500 deaths China had officially announced to date, noted an ndtv.com report Feb 7, citing Taiwan News. Besides, the number of suspected cases was stated to have been mentioned as 79,808, which was four times the official figure.
“Netizens noticed that Tencent has on at least three occasions posted extremely high numbers, only to quickly lower them to government-approved statistics,” Taiwan News was quoted as saying.
Tencent was yet to officially comment on these reports.
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Meanwhile the death, reportedly on Feb 7, of a doctor widely regarded as a hero in China for blowing the whistle on the threat posed by the Wuhan coronavirus has led to a massive outpouring of grief and anger online, reported edition.cnn.com Feb 7.
Dr Li Wenliang, 34, was reprimanded by local police for allegedly “spreading rumours” about the illness in late December. Wuhan health officials had summoned Li in the middle of the night to demand he explain why he shared the information. Police later forced him to sign a statement admitting to “illegal behaviour”, noted the AP Feb 6.
“In the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, our hospital’s ophthalmologist, Li Wenliang, was unfortunately infected,” Wuhan Central Hospital was quoted as saying on its Twitter-like Weibo account. “He passed away after all the efforts we’ve taken to resuscitate him. We deeply mourn his passing.”
On Feb 6 night and Feb 7 morning, three rapidly trending social media hashtags – “The Wuhan government owes Li Wenliang an apology”, “I want freedom of speech”, and “We want freedom of speech” – were seen millions of times before they were censored, reported scmp.com Feb 7.
Widely shared obituaries of Li published by Chinese media outlets, including Renwu magazine, hailed him as a martyr and an ordinary hero, who loved eating and doting on his family, the report said.
Meanwhile, a 28-year-old hospital pharmacist who worked for 10 straight days helping to fight the coronavirus outbreak in central China had died of a heart attack, said another scmp.com report Feb 7.
Song Yingjie, who was part of a medical team checking the temperatures of drivers at a motorway checkpoint in Hunan – the province directly to the south of the epicentre of the contagion – was reported to have been found dead in his dormitory in the early hours of Feb 3 morning. He was stated to have worked without a break since Jan 25.
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China has expressed anger against countries that had imposed harsh travel restrictions on visitors from China as the world tries to contain the spread of a deadly coronavirus.
Noting that “strong objections” had been registered with countries that had cut flights to China during the outbreak, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has said, “We deplore and oppose those countries who went against WHO’s professional recommendations and ICAO’s bulletins.”
“Their actions, which sowed panic among the public, will not help prevent and control the epidemic. They have gravely disrupted normal personnel exchanges, international cooperation, and order of the international market for air transportation.”
China previously criticized the US for its travel restrictions while lavishing praise on some of its traditional and financially dependent allies, including Pakistan – which initially cancelled flights but quickly reversed course and started them again, noted a bloomberg.com report Feb 6.
Long-serving Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose country had received billions in Chinese investment in recent years, had been one of China’s staunchest allies and was even visiting the country this week, the report noted.
“Cambodia has shown that a friend in need is a friend indeed,” China’s foreign ministry was quoted as saying in a statement.