Coronavirus Deaths Exceed Sars Fatalities in 2003
In China’s Hubei province alone, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, the death toll now is put at 780 by regional health officials.
All but two of the overall total of 803 deaths have so far been in mainland China.
In 2003, 774 people were killed by Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in more than two dozen countries.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the new outbreak.
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In its latest bulletin, health officials in Hubei reported 81 new fatalities on Saturday, bringing the death toll in the region to 780.
There now have been 801 deaths in China, with one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The new virus, 2019-nCov, was first reported in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, and the sprawling city has been in lockdown for weeks.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong has implemented a mandatory two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving from mainland China. Visitors are being told to isolate themselves in hotel rooms or government-run centres, while residents are required to stay in their homes.
Flouting the new rules will be punishable with a fine and a prison sentence. There have been 26 confirmed cases of the virus in Hong Kong.
On Thursday, a 60-year-old US citizen – the first confirmed non-Chinese victim of the illness – died in Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital.
On Saturday, France confirmed five new cases in its Haute-Savoie region, including a nine-year-old boy, which brings the total of infected people in the country to 11.
French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said all of the five new cases were British nationals staying in the same chalet, which had also housed a Briton who had been in Singapore. Their condition is not said to be serious. A further six people who stayed at the chalet are under observation.
There has also been widespread anger and grief across China over the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor who tried to warn about the new coronavirus. He contracted the virus while treating patients in Wuhan, in Hubei province.