(TibetanReview.net, Feb08’20) – After declining for two days, the number of new confirmed infections from the Wuhan novel coronavirus in mainland China has risen on Feb 8 to 3,399, with the number of deaths on the day being 86, again hitting a daily record, to take the total number of deaths to 722. The total number of confirmed cases rose to 34,546 as of Feb 7. A total of 2,050 people were reported to have recovered.
Xinhua Feb 8 further cited China’s National Health Commission as saying 6,101 patients were in severe condition while 27,657 people were suspected of being infected with the virus.
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The US government on Feb 7 reiterated its offer to Beijing to send medical experts to China as part of efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and pledged to spend up to US$100 million to assist the country and others impacted by the contagion.
“Our longstanding offer to send world class experts to China remains on the table,” scmp.com Feb 8 quoted the country’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as telling reporters in Washington, adding that the US had identified 13 experts to be part of a proposed 25-person World Health Organisation team to assist Chinese specialists trying to bring the outbreak under control.
“These are virologists, drug development experts and epidemiologists who would be part of that team. We continue to expect fully that President Xi will accept that team that the WHO has put together,” Azar was quoted as saying.
Also on Feb 8, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US$100 million offer and noted that his department had “facilitated the transportation of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials.
And in a tweet on Feb 8, before Pompeo’s statement and Azar’s press briefing, President Donald Trump said he had a long and “very good conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There were no suggestions that China had accepted the US offers.
The contagion has so far spread to at least 24 other countries, sickening more than 270 people outside China.
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Meanwhile, independent scientists have questioned a South China Agricultural University research finding reported on Feb 8 that suggested that the outbreak of coronavirus disease spreading from China might have passed from bats to humans through the illegal traffic of pangolins.
Reuters Feb 7 cited China’s official Xinhua news agency as reporting that the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus strain separated from pangolins in the study was 99% identical to that from infected people. It was cited as saying the research had found pangolins – the world’s only scaly mammals – to be “the most likely intermediate host.”
Pangolins are one of Asia’s most trafficked mammals, despite laws banning the trade, because their meat is considered a delicacy in countries such as China and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
But James Wood, head of the veterinary medicine department at Britain’s University of Cambridge, has said, “The evidence for the potential involvement of pangolins in the outbreak has not been published, other than by a university press release. This is not scientific evidence.”
Also, Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at Britain’s University of Nottingham, has said that while the South China Agricultural University research was an interesting development, it was still unclear “whether or not the endangered pangolin really is the reservoir” because of a number of unanswered questions.
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China’s National Health Commission has given the virus a temporary official name – novel coronavirus pneumonia, or NCP. The name is expected to be adopted by government departments and organisations in China until a permanent name for the infection has been determined.
The naming of a new virus is decided by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. A name has been submitted to scientific journals and the committee hopes to announce it within days, said a BBC report.