12, February 2020
The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in China has risen to 1,113, and health experts have finally picked a name for the virus.
Chinese health officials said on Wednesday that 97 new deaths and 2,015 new cases had emerged in the previous 24 hours nationwide.
Cases of infection also now stood at 44,653, the officials said.
Authorities have locked down tens of millions of people in the epicenter of the epidemic — Hubei Province’s capital, Wuhan — and several other cities and regions in an unprecedented effort to contain the outbreak.
International efforts are also being made to contain the virus, which has spread to dozens of countries across the globe so far.
Meanwhile, health experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) have picked a name for the virus.
At a conference in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO experts announced the name “COVID-19” for the novel coronavirus, which had until now been assigned a generic name.
WHO began a two-day meeting on Tuesday to discuss the epidemic. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to step up measures to detect and contain the virus.
“A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action. If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number 1, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” he said.
Tedros said there were fewer than 400 cases in 24 other countries, with one death.
“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months. So we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus while preparing for the long term using the preparations for the vaccines,” he said.
‘No coronavirus cases in Iran’
An Iranian health official has denied speculation and reports that an Iranian patient has died in hospital because of a coronavirus infection, saying no cases of infection have been detected in Iran.
Kianoush Jahanpour, the director of public relations at the Iranian Health Ministry, told IRNA on Wednesday that rumors about suspected infections or deaths due to the coronavirus in Iran were baseless.
Citing the newspaper Iran, Reuters had earlier in the day reported that an Iranian woman had died of a suspected coronavirus infection.
Jahanpour said Iran was still clear of the virus. A group of Iranian students recently returned from China’s Wuhan, he said, have also tested negative for the virus, and are currently halfway through a two-week quarantine.
Infections on a cruise ship off Japan
Thirty nine more passengers and crew members on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan’s coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the new cases linked to the ship to 175.
“Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive,” Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday morning. “At this point, we have confirmed that four people, among those who are hospitalized, are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit.”
The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been in quarantine since arriving off the Japanese coast early last week after the virus was detected in a passenger who got off the ship last month in Hong Kong.
Elsewhere, a British man who caught the virus while attending a conference in Singapore and then passed it on to at least 11 other people while on holiday in the French Alps before finally being diagnosed himself back in Britain, said Tuesday he had fully recovered but remained in isolation in a central London hospital.