China coronavirus death toll rises sharply to 82, Beijing confirms first fatality


Authorities confirmed on Monday, January 27, 2020, that the death toll from China's coronavirus has hit 82 while the number of confirmed cases has reached more than 2 700. Beijing officials also reported the capital's first fatality who was a 50-year-old man who visited Wuhan.

From 26 fatalities and 830 confirmed cases on Friday, January 24, the figures showed a sharp increase in just a matter of days, prompting China to further make efforts in containing the virus, including limiting travel among its citizens.

All tour groups and sale of tour group packages for overseas travel have been suspended beginning Monday.

According to Beijing's health commission, the city's first victim came from Wuhan on January 8 and had developed a fever after returning to Beijing just a week later. He was sent to the hospital on January 21 but succumbed to respiratory failure on January 27.

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Meanwhile, South Korea just confirmed its fourth case, while scattered cases have also been verified in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Nepal, as well as France, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

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In Africa, health authorities in Ivory Coast are investigating a possible case of coronavirus in a female student who came from China– the first person to be tested for the epidemic on the continent.

In the U.S., cases were reported in Washington, Chicago, southern California, and Arizona. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was investigating 110 people across 26 states for possible cases– 32 had tested negative while 73 were pending.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet that his health officials were "in very close communication" with Chinese counterparts and that the government had offered China "any help that is necessary."

Hong Kong also reported two more cases, raising its total to eight.

According to health department official Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, all cases were connected to Hubei province, and there is no indication yet that the virus– officially dubbed 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)– is spreading to the city's general population.

However, as a safety measure, Hong Kong has started banning residents from Hubei province.

In a turn of events, Wuhan mayor Zhou XIanwang said he would resign if it helped with public opinion as he acknowledged criticism over his handling of the crisis.

"We haven't disclosed information in a timely manner, and also did not use effective information to improve our work," he said.

On Saturday, January 25, a Chinese doctor in Wuhan who treated patients with the coronavirus died. According to China Global Television Network, Dr. Liang Wudong, 62, was "at the frontline" of the outbreak.

On January 27, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a special meeting with Beijing officials to discuss how to contain the infection.

Although the organization has yet to declare a public health emergency of international concern, they said it was an emergency in China.

The country's government has so far sent 1 200 more medical professionals to Wuhan, while the health ministry ordered a nationwide effort to promptly determine and isolate suspected coronavirus cases.

Featured image credit: @ktse852/Twitter

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