On Monday, February 10, China recorded the highest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV), adding to overall 1 018 fatalities as of Tuesday, February 11, 2020. A group of professionals from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in China on Monday to assist with containing the epidemic, amid mounting backlash against the Chinese government for heavy censorship.
According to Chinese health authorities, the virus claimed 108 lives in mainland China on Monday, mostly in Wuhan-- the biggest single-day death toll since the outbreak began in December 2019.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that the confirmed deaths on the mainland stand at 1 016, surpassing 744 killed by the SARS epidemic, which also began in China.
Furthermore, there are now 43 105 people diagnosed with the virus, the majority in China, and two deaths outside of the country (one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines). On a positive note, around 4 000 patients have been treated and discharged from hospitals.
On Monday, a team from WHO landed in China to help in combating the outbreak, led by Dr. Bruce Aylward who has also responded to Ebola and made initiatives for immunization, communicable disease control, and polio eradication.
According to WHO director-general Tedros Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, they will "lay the groundwork for a larger international team."
On Tuesday, Ghebreyesus also issued a statement on the opening of global research, warning that the virus holds a grave threat worldwide.
"It’s hard to believe that just two months ago, the 2019nCoV-- which has come to captivate the attention of media, financial markets, and political leaders-- was completely unknown to us. With 99 percent of 2019-nCoV cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world."
The team's arrival came after WHO received backlash for its initial decision not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency yet.
People were also expressing their outrage against the government for mishandling the crisis and for allegedly suppressing facts about the outbreak.
Fueling people's anger against the government were the death of Li Wenliang, the whistleblower doctor who tried to warn others about the virus, and the alleged silencing of journalist Chen Qiushi, who went missing after doing critical reporting from Wuhan.
Hundreds of thousands of people in China began demanding freedom of speech online but hashtags about the protest have since been censored by Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Tencent, the second biggest company in China, reportedly listed figures for the coronavirus showing that over 24 000 have died and more than 150 000 were infected-- further igniting the backlash. The news came amid widespread speculation that the Communist Party in Beijing may be suppressing the numbers of the deadly epidemic.
Furthermore, a conversation between an undercover investigator and a Wuhan funeral home staffer reportedly revealed the real number of deaths. According to one worker at an undisclosed crematorium, at least 100 body bags were required every day. Bodies were collected from Wuhan's three major hospitals, as well as private residences and other small hospitals.
Speaking on state television Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his people to "have confidence" that the country will win the battle against the epidemic, adding that the development of drugs to combat the virus is promptly underway.
"This 2019-nCoV outbreak is testing us in many ways. It’s a test of political solidarity-- whether the world can come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies," Ghebreyesus also said in his statement.
"It’s a test of financial solidarity-- whether the will invest now in fighting the 2019nCoV outbreak or pay later to deal with its consequences. And it’s a test of scientific solidarity," he added.
Featured image credit: Mert Cetin/Flickr