Coronavirus in China Claims Sixth Victim as Holiday Travel Heightens Infection Risks
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China climbed to six On Tuesday as authorities reported a surge in new cases, with fears that hundreds of millions of people traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday will accelerate the infection rate.
Officials confirmed that the new mystery virus can spread between humans and said 15 medical staff have now been infected, stoking fears about an international pandemic and prompting airport authorities around the world to step up screening of travelers arriving from China.
The latest update on the outbreak that began in the central city of Wuhan sent shivers through financial markets, as the World Health Organization called a meeting for Wednesday to consider declaring an international health emergency.
The National Health Commission (NHC) put the number of confirmed cases at 291 by the end of Monday, but individual provinces gave more up-to-date information on Tuesday showing a widening geographic spread.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has confirmed 258 cases and six deaths, Mayor Zhou Xianwang told Chinese state television on Tuesday.
The NHC said another 14 cases were reported in the southern province of Guangdong, five in the capital Beijing and another two in Shanghai by the end of Monday.
But on Tuesday, the virus was confirmed to spread to more parts of the country, with the eastern province of Zhejiang reporting five cases, and the northern city of Tianjin reporting two.
The scare brought back bad memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that broke out in China in 2002/2003, resulting in the death of nearly 800 people in global pandemic.
Two cases have already been identified in Thailand, one in Japan and one in South Korea, while the Philippines reported on Tuesday its first suspected case.
Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims as its own, also confirmed its first case, a woman who had returned from working in Wuhan, on Tuesday.
Taiwan, which has close economic and people-to-people links with China despite political tensions, on Monday set up an epidemic response command center to coordinate the island’s response to the virus. More than 1,000 beds were prepared in isolation wards in case the virus spreads further.
The mounting anxiety was transmitted to regional markets.
China's onshore yuan fell 0.6%, its biggest daily drop since Aug. 26, 2019, while airline and travel stocks fell across the region.
European shares also slipped on mounting concerns about the impact of the outbreak, with luxury goods firms particularly hard-hit on worries about weaker demand from Chinese consumers.
The virus can cause pneumonia, with symptoms including fever and difficulty in breathing. As those symptoms are similar to many other respiratory diseases, extra screening is needed.
Neha writes articles on sectors including medicine, food, materials, and science & technology. A qualified statistician, she has the ability to observe and analyze the trends in global markets and write compelling articles that help CXOs in decision making. She is a bookworm and loves to read fiction, lifestyle, science and technology. Neha comes with 6 years of experience in content writing and editing that involves blog writing, preparation of study materials and OERs.