Coronavirus Live Updates (Saturday): China’s ‘Imported’ Cases From Italy Climb While Officials Lament ‘Blind Spots’ in Wuhan Outbreak
Saturday, March 7, 6 p.m.
“Special places” including prisons, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals might have been blind spots in the fight against the new coronavirus. As of Thursday, such places had yielded 1,795 confirmed cases in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, according to the latest official data (link in Chinese).
Over the past weeks, authorities have urged local officials to strengthen the management of special places in a bid to control the spread of the virus. Last month, several prisons reported a total of more than 500 infected inmates and guards. In addition, more than a dozen people died in a nursing home located just one block away from the Wuhan seafood market where the virus outbreak is suspected to have originated.
In general, though, more positive signs are emerging in the central province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located. More than 43,000 people there had recovered from the disease as of Friday, although more than 18,000 patients were still undergoing hospital treatment, according to government data (link in Chinese). Over the past week, the number of daily new recoveries in the province hovered between 1,000 and 3,000.
“The day that everyone is looking forward to won’t be too far away now,” a senior official said (link in Chinese) at a Friday press conference, when asked when the government will lift Hubei’s stringent restrictions, which include lockdowns in multiple cities.
Imported cases from Italy on the rise
As of Friday, Chinese health authorities had reported 18 “imported” cases from Italy, including eight in Beijing (link in Chinese). The capital has called for the strict quarantine of those entering the city from countries heavily impacted by the epidemic.
Confirmed cases in Italy continued to spike, reaching 4,636 on Friday afternoon, according to government data (link in Italian). The number was up 778 from a day earlier, marking the biggest single-day rise since the outbreak in the nation began. So far, the coronavirus has claimed at least 197 lives in Italy, making it the country with the most fatalities outside China.
A surging patient count, overwhelmed hospitals and rising cases of cross-infection have complicated Italy’s efforts (link in Chinese) to contain the spread of the disease, which is pretty similar to the previous situation seen in Wuhan.
In other virus-related news
• China’s goods exports declined 17.2% (link in Chinese) year-on-year in dollar terms in the first two months of the year, as the impact of the epidemic kicked in, according to official data. The reading is weaker than market expectations (link in Chinese). Imports fell 4% in the same period.
• “Fake, it’s all fake!” Jeers from nearby buildings that greeted the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan to Wuhan are shining a spotlight on the frustration that many local residents feel living under lockdown in the embattled city.
• A Chinese team says it has clinical evidence that the new coronavirus can also infect the central nervous system, though other experts have urged caution about drawing conclusions from the case.
• A study by a Singaporean team found that there was “extensive environmental contamination” by a coronavirus patient with mild symptoms, as both toilet bowl and sink samples were positive, “suggesting that viral shedding in stool could be a potential route of transmission.”
• Although North Korea is unlikely to share much information about a prospective coronavirus outbreak within its borders, experts say cases there are likely and could overwhelm the country’s crumbling public health system if it spreads unchecked.
Compiled by Lin Jinbing
Saturday, March 7, 10 a.m.
Stabilizing signs emerge in China
• By the end of Friday, China had confirmed 80,813 cases of infection, including 3,073 deaths, according to the latest official data (link in Chinese).
The majority, or more than 67,000, of the confirmed cases were reported in the central province of Hubei, the epidemic’s epicenter. Within the province, most of the cases — almost 50,000 — were concentrated in its capital Wuhan.
• Daily new infections on the Chinese mainland dropped below 100 for the first time in more than one month on Friday, the latest sign of the epidemic stabilizing.
The positive development follows weeks of hospitals across the country accelerating diagnoses in a bid to treat patients more quickly.
• Of the 99 new infections reported on the mainland on Friday, 74 were in Wuhan. Other cities in Hubei reported zero cases.
Outside Hubei, nearly all new infections, or 24, were “backflow cases,” which refer to people who contracted the coronavirus outside China and brought it back into the country. As of Friday, the mainland had reported 60 such cases.
• Suspected cases on the mainland, which have fallen for about one month from a peak of nearly 29,000 (link in Chinese) on Feb. 8 despite a few upticks, stood at 502 on Friday.
Global jitters continue
• As of Saturday morning Beijing time, at least 92 countries and regions outside China had reported a total of more than 21,000 infections, including 417 deaths, according to government data and media reports compiled by Caixin.
• The U.S. has reported more than 300 cases of infection, including 14 deaths.
Twenty-one people onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco have tested positive for the new coronavirus, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said (link in Chinese) at a press briefing on Friday.
This is the second cruise ship operated by U.S.-based operator Princess Cruises Inc. to have carried passengers and crew infected with the coronavirus. There are more than 3,500 people of over 50 nationalities aboard the vessel, according to the company.
Nearly 700 people aboard the other ship, the Diamond Princess, had been confirmed infected with the virus. The ship has been quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan.
Compiled by Lin Jinbing
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