The number of fatalities in coronaviruses rises to 1,765; China says significant drop in cases

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Beijing: China announced a significant drop in coronavirus cases on Sunday as the WHO team sought to help Beijing curb the spread of the virus, which has killed 1,765 people so far.

At least 142 other people died, mainly in the worst affected province of Hubei, on Saturday, and confirmed cases rose to 68,500. China's National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed 2,009 new cases nationwide. Hubei and its provincial capital, Wuhan, where the virus first appeared in December, reported 1,843 of the new cases. The latest report brought the total number of confirmed cases in Hubei to 56,249 cases.

Of the new deaths, 139 were in Hubei, two in Sichuan and one in Hunan, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. According to the report, 9,419 infected patients have been discharged from hospitals after recovery.

The Commission announced that the proportion of serious and critical cases of novel coronavirus disease in all confirmed cases in China has decreased significantly.

"In Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, the proportion of serious cases among confirmed cases fell from a high of 32.4 percent on January 28 to 21.6 percent on February 15," said Mi Feng, a spokesman for the NHC during a media briefing here.

Mi said the share in other parts of Hubei Province had also dropped from a high of 18.4 percent on January 27 to 11.1 percent on February 15.

The percentage in other provinces of China also fell significantly, dropping from a high of 15.9 percent on January 27 to 7.2 percent on February 15, as Mi was quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

He said the change in the status of the coronavirus cases had demonstrated that current epidemic prevention and control measures were effective.

The authorities and doctors are taking differentiated measures on patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, close contacts to the confirmed cases, and fever patients, he said.

"The differentiated measures ensure that a large number of mild cases are treated in time, which reduces the likelihood of serious cases occurring," he said.

Mi claimed that the number of cases dropped significantly when the World Health Organization's 12-strong team of experts was asked to work with Chinese health experts to speed up the containment process of the deadly virus.

India said it would do everything in its power to help people in China fight the deadly outbreak of the coronavirus and would soon send a delivery of medical supplies.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said international experts are now on site in China and are working closely with their Chinese counterparts to understand the outbreak and to inform them about the next steps in the global response, the report said.

Tedros also met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference.

Tedros said that it is necessary for all countries to unite and work together in a scientific and factual manner rather than spreading false news and stigma.

"Given the misinformation about the novel coronavirus epidemic, WHO has communicated with some companies, including Google, to ensure that the public receives the relevant information from WHO," said Tedros.

He said one of the goals of the joint mission is to quickly inform the public of the next steps in COVID-19 response and preparation activities in China and worldwide.

"Particular attention will be paid to understanding the transmission of the virus, the severity of the disease and the impact of ongoing response," he said.

In Beijing, the Chinese NHC announced that the joint mission with WHO experts will visit China's three provincial regions on-site to see the implementation and effectiveness of China's urban and rural measures to prevent and fight epidemics.

"One of the goals of the joint mission is to make suggestions for preventing and combating the coronavirus outbreak in China and worldwide," it said.

In addition, the team of experts will visit epidemic-related facilities that focus on epidemiology, medical treatment, laboratory detection, and scientific research, the NHC said.

After in-depth consultation and communication between the responsible Chinese department and Bruce Aylward, a Canadian epidemiologist who led an advance team to support the ongoing antivirus fight, appropriate arrangements were made for the team's key inspection areas and plans, the report said Xinhua report.

One task of the WHO team and its Chinese colleagues is to develop standard medicines to cure the disease.

On Saturday, Chinese officials said that over half of coronavirus patients in Wuhan are treated with traditional Chinese medicine, which has helped many of them recover.
China has also ordered trials with a number of drugs to treat the virus.

China has imposed further restrictions on the 60 million people living in confinement in Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak, to control the epidemic.

The use of private cars has been banned and residents have been told to stay at home unless there is an emergency.

Officials say there will be only one exception to this rule – every three days, a single person can buy groceries and other essential items from every household.