The coronavirus has already claimed more lives in mainland China than the SARS epidemic, amid reports the country’s authorities are not being transparent about the scale of the epidemic and that people are finding it hard to get treatment.
The official death toll in mainland China, according to state-run news agency Xinhua, is 361, with more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the disease. The coronavirus is continuing to spread beyond China and is now present in more than 25 countries.
This figure has overtaken the death toll from SARS, which in 2003 killed 349 people in China and infected 5,327 people.
However, a study published in the medical journal The Lancet estimated that the number of coronavirus infections could be more than four times higher than the number given by Chinese authorities. It said its “baseline scenario” put the figure in the city of Wuhan at 75,815 as of January 25.
The Lancet report also projected the “epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1–2 weeks.”
There is an apparent discrepancy between the Chinese government’s insistence that it can cope with the crisis and other forecasts about its deadliness. This is borne out by anecdotal evidence from residents in Wuhan at the center of the outbreak, who say there is difficulty in getting diagnosis and treatment.
Long Jian, 32, told The New York Times his father had to wait a week and visit half a dozen hospitals before he could even get a coronavirus test.
Coronavirus death toll overtakes SARS epidemic
The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in China has surged, with more than 17,200 infected. The updated figures came as authorities prepared to open a new 1,000-bed hospital to treat victims of the new virus.
The number of confirmed deaths from China’s coronavirus outbreak has risen to 361, with Hubei province — the center of the outbreak — reporting 57 new deaths on Monday, according to the National Health Commission.
The death toll exceeds that of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak, which killed 349 people in mainland China. The commission also confirmed 2,829 new cases of the virus nationwide on Sunday, bringing the total number of people infected within China to 17,205. The total number globally is 17,300.
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The World Health Organization has said the number of confirmed cases will keep growing because thousands of specimens from suspected cases have yet to be tested.
Chinese stocks plummeted by almost 9% at the start of trade on Monday as investors returned from the Lunar New Year break, which was extended due to virus fears. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index nosedived 8.73%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, sank 8.99%.
Hong Kong Tightens Border as Medical Workers Call for Shutdown
More than 2,500 hospital employees went on strike, demanding a complete closing of traffic from mainland China to lessen the risk of spreading coronavirus.
China accuses US of virus scaremongering
Beijing has accused the United States of spreading fear over a coronavirus outbreak by pulling nationals out and restricting travel instead of offering significant aid.
The United States was the first nation to begin evacuations, issued a travel warning against going to China, and from Sunday barred entry to foreigners recently in China.
Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic”, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) had advised against trade and travel curbs.
In China, 361 people have died with more than 17,000 infected from the virus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan. At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, from the United States to Japan.