27 Jan 2020

Wuhan coronavirus death toll rises in China

7:10 pm on 27 January 2020

The coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan has killed 80 people in China so far and infected more than 2750 globally, updated figures show.

A member of a 121-member medical team headed from Beijing to Wuhan is hugged by a colleague at Beijing Hospital.

Photo: AFP / Xinhua / Peng Ziyang

As of 27 January, the death toll in China had risen to 80, with 76 in Hubei province, authorities reported. At least 2744 people in China had been infected, with 1423 confirmed cases in Hubei province.

No fatalities have been reported outside China.

Cases outside China:

  • Thailand: 8 cases
  • Hong Kong: 8 cases
  • United States: 5 cases
  • Australia: 5 cases
  • Macau: 5 cases
  • Taiwan: 4 cases
  • Singapore: 4 cases
  • Malaysia: 4 cases
  • France 3 cases
  • Japan: 3 cases
  • Vietnam: 2 cases
  • South Korea: 2 cases
  • Canada: 1 case
  • Nepal: 1 case

The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

The World Health Organisation said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency.

Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Most of those affected are older people and those with underlying health conditions.

China said the virus was mutating and could be transmitted through human contact.

On the weekend, Chinese officials warned the virus was able to spread during its incubation period, making it harder to contain the illness.

Two scientific analyses of the epidemic suggested each person infected was passing the disease on to between two and three other people.

Three research teams have begun work on developing potential vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said. Scientists hope to be testing the first possible vaccines in three months' time.

China is testing the HIV drug Aluvia as a treatment.

There are severe travel restrictions in Wuhan, with urban transport shut and outgoing flights suspended.

Among other measures to contain the virus, China said it would halt all group tours, affecting tourism both at home and to other countries, from 27 January.

Mechanical equipment working at the construction site of a special hospital in Wuhan. The central China metropolitan of Wuhan will follow Beijing's SARS treatment model to build a special hospital for admitting patients infected in the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.

A construction site in Wuhan where one of two special hospitals for admitting patients infected with the novel (new) coronavirus. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong has barred residents of Hubei province from entering the city.

France, Italy, Japan, Australia and the United States have all said they were working to evacuate citizens from Wuhan.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening.

Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

- Reuters

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs