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16 Feb 2020 | 01:13 AM UTC

China: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll rises above 1500 February 16 /update 36

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll stands at 1669 as of February 16, as the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases exceeds 69,100; further spread of the virus to be expected over the near term

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Event

The death toll from the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed at 1669 in China as of Sunday, February 16. Globally, 69,107 people have confirmed to have contracted the virus, with 99 percent of cases reported in China. In Beijing, individuals returning from extended holidays after Friday, February 14, were required to self-isolate for 14 days. A local news outlet reported that individuals failing to self-quarantine would be held accountable under the law. 

New control measures are being implemented throughout China to prevent the spread of the outbreak and to assist in responding to increasing healthcare needs. On Thursday, February 13, wartime control measures were put in place in Shiyan’s Zhangwan district in Hubei province, which closes all buildings in the area for the next 14 days. In Honghu city (Hubei province), authorities initiated a lock-down as of Friday, with strict management of entry into housing compounds and villages. Authorities have also begun requisitioning private hospitals, hotels, apartments, and vehicles in multiple regions to provide more space to treat infected patients. According to media reports, emergency legislation for requisitioning has been passed in the cities of Wuhan, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Fuzhou, and Xi’an. Significant transportation and business disruptions are ongoing throughout China as authorities attempt to contain the outbreak; cases have been confirmed in every Chinese region.

The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held in Shanghai between April 17-19, was postponed due to health concerns. Other major international events may also be suspended or delayed in the near term.

Further international spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be 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 (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 28 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

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

Individuals in China are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
  • Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
  • Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
  • Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
  • Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.