Cases of the deadly coronavirus have increased exponentially, Tuesday, as the official infection toll reaches 20,659, with total death count escalating to 427. This marks a doubling of verified infections from a reported 9,700 confirmed cases just four days ago on the 30 January. Meanwhile, the contagion continues to spread worldwide as the coronavirus claims another 200 outside of the People’s Republic.
Wuhan’s novel coronavirus has now doubled in the space of a week, bringing with it an ever-increasing death toll. At the epicenter, nestled in the Hubei province, confirmed cases exceed 13,500, with a reported 414 deaths. Outside of the virus’ ground zero, multiple provinces have reported accelerating rates of infection.
Removed from mainland China, the virus shows no signs of slackening. Today, Hong Kong confirmed its first fatality. According to a report from Qz, a 39-year-old man succumbed to the virus following heart complications [Quartz] after having traveled to Wuhan in January. So far, the special administrative region has suffered 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. In the meantime, neighboring Macau cites ten confirmed cases—going as far as to shut down its infamous casinos in an attempt to quell the infection [Bloomberg].
Monday saw Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, convene a second special meeting in which the leader called for a more robust response to the epidemic, describing the outbreak as a “major test of China’s system and capacity for governance.” [The New York times]
Xi extended a stern warning to those that would elude responsibilities, urging officials to follow orders. “Those who disobey the unified command or shirk off responsibilities will be punished,” Xi noted, adding that “bureaucratism and the practice of formalities for formalities” sake” are contributing to the expanse of the novel coronavirus.
According to a report by the state-run media outlet, Xinhua, adaptions in national policy are currently under review. The Politburo Standing Committee—a committee comprising of the top leadership of China’s Communist Party— have already suggested a crackdown on wildlife trade and a focus on environmental and sanitation standards [Xinhua].
Outside of Southeast Asia, the virus remains widespread but contained. Sporadic cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—with no fatalities reported. In Europe, Germany and France have been hit the worst with a respective 12 and 6 confirmed coronavirus infectees. As reported, two Britons have fallen victim to the virus so far. The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the cases on 31 January [gov.co.uk] despite efforts to quarantine return flights from China.
Despite today’s dreary news, it seems a cure may be closer than ever. Yesterday, it was reported that Thailand managed to clear and discharge six confirmed cases of the infection. Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok managed to pacify the virus via a mixture of HIV and flu medication [Bangkok Post].
While the coronavirus continues to proliferate, 695 recoveries have been noted worldwide [Johns Hopkins data] —the majority of which come from the epicenter in Hubei, which cites 395 rehabilitations.
Conflicting reports either downplay the gravity of the virus or refer to it as a full-blown plague. According to Svenn-Erik Mamelund—epidemic expert at the Oslo Metropolitan University—the novel coronavirus is no worse than the flu. Conversely, according to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci—director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease—a pandemic is the next inevitable step [The New York Times]:
“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic … But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.”
Regardless, if the current rate of infection continues, there will be no doubts as to the severity of the coronavirus.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.