Coronavirus death toll nears 500 with fatalities outside China confirmed, over 24 000 infected

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The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV) has jumped to 492 as of Wednesday, February 5, 2020, according to the National Health Commission, who also confirmed that the number of confirmed infections rose to 24 324. For the first time, countries outside mainland China reported fatalities– one each in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Chinese officials announced 65 new deaths on Tuesday, February 4, bringing the death toll in mainland China to 490 and the overall count to 492. Officials also announced 3 387 new cases, including nine passengers and one crew member on a cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

The ship, carrying 2 666 people and 1 045 crew members, had an 80-year old Chinese passenger who was found to be infected.

According to officials of the cruise line, the other infected passengers were from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States, while the crew member was from the Philippines.

On Sunday, February 2, the first overseas death was reported in the Philippines, identified as a 44-year-old man from Wuhan who had traveled to two islands in the country with his wife. According to health secretary Francisco Duque, the woman also tested positive for the virus.

The second death outside mainland China was reported in Hong Kong on Tuesday, identified as a 39-year old man who had visited Wuhan and returned to his country on January 23. This was also the first fatality in Hong Kong. The patient's mother, who did not travel to the outbreak's epicenter in Hubei, later contracted the virus.

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam has closed all but three borders with the mainland.

As the epidemic was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 30, more countries have started taking measures to protect their people. France and Great Britain joined the U.S. in urging their citizens to avoid traveling to China.

France has six confirmed cases while the U.K. has two.

The U.S. has started its second airlift of American citizens out of virus-stricken Wuhan. "Two planes have departed Wuhan en route to the United States," the State Department confirmed.

Meanwhile, Huoshenshan Hospital, China's makeshift hospital in Wuhan which was built in roughly 10 days, has started operation and admitted patients on Tuesday morning. 

The first batch of 50 patients has been transferred from three hospitals including Wuchang Hospital and Hankou Hospital.

Huoshenshan has 1 000 beds for coronavirus patients, while another makeshift hospital will have a bedding capacity of 1 500. Leishenshan Hospital, the second medical facility, is expected to be completed on February 5 and will start taking patients on February 6.

Featured image credit: Mitha Putri

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