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17 Apr 2020 | 05:59 AM UTC

China: Authorities in Wuhan revise COVID-19 death toll upwards by more than 1000 April 17 /update 56

Health authorities in Wuhan revise the death toll from COVID-19 upwards by more than 1000 on April 17; follow authority directives

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Event

On Friday, April 17, health authorities in the city of Wuhan (Hubei province), where the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic originated, announced a revised death toll for the city, increasing the number of deaths by 1290, from 2579 to 3869. The number of confirmed cases was also increased by 325 to 50,333. The health authorities did state that the epidemic was now under control in the city and lockdown measures have largely been lifted. The reason for the alteration in the statistics was reported to have been due to miscounting and misreporting in the early days of the outbreak being discovered now officials had the opportunity to do a full review of the situation.

Local authorities in Wuhan stated on Friday, April 10, that they will continue to test residents for COVID-19 due to concerns of imported cases as the number of infections decreases. This comes just days after authorities relaxed lockdown measures in Wuhan. Since Wednesday, April 8, people have been permitted to leave the city for the first time since a lockdown was imposed on Monday, January 27. Passenger trains began to depart the city from 00:50 (local time) and highways were also opened to outbound traffic. The restrictions were eased following a reduction in the number of daily reported cases, with reports suggesting that Wuhan had only recorded two new confirmed cases in the past two weeks. Residents are still being encouraged to remain within their neighborhoods and avoid travel outside of the city unless it is necessary.

While travel restrictions have eased in Wuhan, strict control measures continue nationwide. Authorities have stated that measures have been introduced to restrict nonessential border crossings while those border ports and crossings which were previously closed will continue to be inaccessible until further notice. Border patrols have also been increased. More rigorous checks have been introduced on the Russian border from Monday, April 13, as the government claims that most of the recently imported cases of COVID-19 originated in Russia. Some of the new measures include the implementation of quarantine orders for the cities of Harbin and Suifenhe in Heilongjiang province. On Tuesday, April 14, officials in Heilongjiang province announced that a hotline has been established so that residents could report those traveling to China illegally. Additionally, while the border remains open for Chinese nationals, state media has encouraged Chinese citizens to not return to China from Russia during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, foreign nationals, including those with valid residence permits, remain prohibited from entering the country, except diplomats and those on deployments deemed essential by the government.

As of April 17, 83,756 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in China, including 4636 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.