More than 40,000 people are contaminated in the Middle Kingdom. The overall toll exceeds that of SARS, which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2003.
The new coronavirus has killed 908 people in mainland China, where the number of people infected exceeds 40,000, according to the assessment established this Monday, February 10 by the authorities, confirming a certain stability in the progression of the epidemic.
Ninety-seven new deaths have been recorded in mainland China, including 91 in Hubei, a province in central China whose capital is Wuhan, home of the epidemic.
The 2019-nCoV virus, which appeared in a market in Wuhan in December, also killed two other people around the world, one in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong.
The overall toll of 910 deaths now greatly exceeds that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2003.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for which there is no “pandemic” , the number of infections detected daily in China is stabilizing, but it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has exceeded its peak.
A WHO “international expert mission” led by Bruce Aylward, a veteran who worked on other health emergencies, left for China on Sunday evening, the organization said.
“Period of stability”
“We have a four-day stability period where the number of reported cases has not increased. This is good news and it could reflect the impact of the control measures , ” said WHO emergency health program manager Michael Ryan.
In mainland China, with some 3,000 additional cases of infection announced on Monday (compared to around 2,600 the previous day), the toll is now 40,171 patients.
Columbia scientist Ian Lipkin of the United States said the epidemic could peak within two weeks, before easing off markedly – although a “start” is possible when people return to work massively.
The situation still seems chaotic in hospitals in Wuhan, a city cut off from the world since January 23.
Resident Chen Yiping reports that her 61-year-old mother is still waiting for hospital treatment despite severe symptoms, “because there are too many people in need of treatment . “
“The town hall asks people to stay at home as much as possible but there are not enough products in the stores, so we have to go shopping often , ” said Wei, whose husband is infected.
Due to transportation, price and labor issues, “supply is struggling to reach normal levels , ” said senior Commerce Minister Wang Bin.
The Chinese Central Bank has announced that it will release 300 billion yuan (43 billion US dollars) next week to help companies involved in fighting the epidemic, which continues to spread around the world.
More than 320 cases of contamination have been confirmed in around thirty countries and territories. Five new cases (four adults and one child, all of British nationality) were announced in France on Saturday, bringing the total to 11 in the country.
In China itself, the death Friday of a young doctor who had been reprimanded for having given the alert at the end of December continued to cause a rare controversy, in a country where information is tightly controlled.
Intellectuals have released at least two open letters that have circulated on social media since the death of Doctor Li Wenliang in a hospital in Wuhan .
The doctor, who died of coronavirus, is now a martyr in the face of local officials accused of having hidden the beginnings of the epidemic.
“Stop restricting freedom of speech,” plead ten teachers from Wuhan, in a letter that has since been removed from the Weibo social network.
Another letter from anonymous former students of the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing calls on the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stop making “political security the only priority” .
End of cruise
Elsewhere, many countries are tightening their restrictions on people from China and advise against going there. Most international airlines have suspended flights to mainland China.
A plane chartered by London to repatriate around 200 Britons and other foreign nationals landed in the UK on Sunday morning. Thirty-eight French nationals on board arrived in France soon after and were confined.
In Brazil, 34 people were repatriated from Wuhan and placed in quarantine on a military base. In Hong Kong, thousands of tourists confined to an ocean liner for five days were allowed to disembark on Sunday, with 1,800 crew members tested negative.
Authorities feared that some crew members had contracted the virus from a previous trip and have become contagious.
However, in a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama , Japan, six new cases were reported, bringing the number of infected on board to 70.