UK COVID-19 Toll Over 41,000, With 10,000 Care Homes Deaths

File: A member of the ambulance services assists in moving a patient from an ambulance to St Thomas' Hospital in London on March 31, 2020, as the country is under lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Tolga AKMEN / AFP.
File: A member of the ambulance services assists in moving a patient from an ambulance to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on March 31, 2020, as the country is under lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Tolga AKMEN / AFP.

 

Britain’s official coronavirus death toll is at least 41,000 with almost 10,000 dead in care homes in England and Wales alone, according to a statistical update released on Tuesday.

Some 41,020 deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate were registered across the UK by May 8, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With hundreds of deaths still being reported each day, it means the current toll, already the highest in Europe and second only to the United States in the global rankings, is likely to be even higher.

The government’s official rolling tally only records deaths after positive tests, and on Tuesday stood at 35,341, up 545 on the day before.

The ONS figures show a sharp fall in coronavirus deaths in the week up to May 8, reinforcing ministers’ claims that Britain is past the peak.

Deaths in care homes fell at a slower rate than the population at large, and the total number of deaths in care homes in England and Wales now stands at 9,975.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has come under intense criticism for its handling of the outbreak, notably for the time it took to introduce widespread testing.

A cross-party parliamentary committee on Tuesday criticised the decision to initially concentrate testing in a limited number of laboratories.

“From it followed the decision on March 12 to cease testing in the community and retreat to testing principally within hospitals,” it said, warning this left care home residents untested.

At the government’s daily media briefing, England’s deputy chief scientific adviser, Angela McLean, admitted that limited capacity had driven strategy on testing.

“It was the best thing to do with the tests that we had. We could not have people in hospital with Covid symptoms not knowing whether or not they had Covid,” she said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier told parliament he was encouraged that care home deaths were falling.

A total of 62 percent of care homes in England had no reported cases of COVID-19 at all, he added.

Just over a quarter (27 percent) of all deaths in England from the virus were in such places, compared with a European average of about half, he told MPs.

“We will not rest from doing whatever is humanly possible to protect our care homes from this appalling virus,” he said.

Over 160,000 Coronavirus Deaths Recorded In Europe – AFP Tally

An Iranian medic treats a patient infected with the COVID-19 virus at a hospital in Tehran on March 1, 2020. A plane carrying UN medical experts and aid touched down on March 2, 2020, in Iran on a mission to help it tackle the world’s second-deadliest outbreak of coronavirus as European powers said they would send further help.
KOOSHA MAHSHID FALAHI / MIZAN NEWS AGENCY / AFP

 

The coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 160,000 people in Europe, according to an AFP tally at 1300 GMT Wednesday.

Nearly three-quarters of the 160,455 victims died in the four worst-hit European countries: Britain, Italy, Spain and France. So far, 1,798,209 cases have been recorded across Europe.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

COVID-19: Borno Warns Against Illegal Treatment As Death Toll Rises To 21

A file photo of a health official helping his colleague with his PPE.

 

 

The Borno State government has read a riot act to operators of private laboratories, pharmacies and patent stores against diagnosing and treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Salihu Kwayabura, gave the warning on Monday during a media briefing in Maiduguri, the state capital.

He decried that some laboratories and pharmaceutical stores were misleading residents into approaching them for diagnoses and treatment of the disease.

“It has come to our notice that a few private laboratories are engaged in this dastardly and unwarranted act,” the commissioner said.

READ ALSO: Reps Ask FG To Stop Repatriation Of Almajiri Children

He added, “Again, I sound a very strong warning on behalf of the committee and the government of Borno State that they should desist henceforth or face the law.

“We will close down all such premises and prosecute the offenders in accordance with the extant laws of the country.”

Kwayabura informed journalists that while the total number of recovered patients who have been discharged from the isolation centre was 18, the death toll has risen to 21.

He said 10 out of the 21 cases were managed at the isolation centres before the patients gave up the ghost, but the remaining 11 were brought in critical conditions and their status was only discovered after a post-mortem was conducted.

The Commissioner, who is also the secretary of the State COVID 19 Task Force, lamented that some infected patients wait until the disease knocks them down before presenting themselves at the hospital.

According to him, the Ministry of Health had already sent out letters to the culprits with very clear warnings that none of them has the capacity to test for COVID-19.

Kwayabura added that as laboratories conduct diagnostic investigations, they do not have the mandate to attend to patients medically or prescribe the drugs to use.

“I want to sound a very strong warning to pharmacies and patent medicine stores outlets across the state, to private laboratories and private hospitals spread across the state; it is absolutely clear in the laws of this nation that they cannot provide medical care to any individual.

“Therefore, it remains an illegal act to consult within the premises of your facilities,” the commissioner caution.

He, however, asked all government and private hospitals and clinics to be on high alert and properly profile all patients who come to their facilities for medical care.

Kwayabura also asked medical personnel to immediately arrange for the referral of any suspected case of COVID-19 to the state isolation centre for necessary actions.

Nigeria Records 11 More COVID-19 Deaths, Total Now 128

 

Eleven more people have died of coronavirus (COVID-19) as the number of cases surged past 4,000.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced this in its latest update on the outbreak.

It noted that the new deaths recorded have raised the number of people who lost the battle to COVID-19 in the country to 128.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has continued to record more recoveries from the disease as the total figure of 679 reported earlier increased on Saturday.

In its late-night tweet, the health agency disclosed that 66 more people have been discharged from various treatment centres.

This brings to 745, the total figure of people who have so far recovered from COVID-19 after testing negative twice to the disease.

 

The NCDC also revealed that a total of 239 new positive cases of coronavirus were reported across Nigeria on Saturday.

Of the new cases, Lagos has 97, Bauchi reported 44, Kano discovered 29, Katsina recorded 19, and Borno has 17 new infections.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also reported seven new cases, Kwara – six, Oyo – five, and three cases each in Kaduna and Sokoto States.

Two more infections were reported each in Adamawa, Kebbi, Plateau, and Ogun States, while Ekiti has one case.

Nigeria has reported 4,151 cases of COVID-19 so far.

See the breakdown of the figures of cases and deaths below:

COVID-19 NIGERIA

Sunday 9:46 am 10 May 2020

Samples Tested

23,835

Confirmed Cases

4,151

Active Cases

3,278

Discharged Cases

745

Death

128

Confirmed Cases by State

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos1,7641,28344833
Kano5765283018
FCT343250858
Bauchi16115461
Borno159144015
Katsina15613899
Ogun11583284
Gombe11095150
Kaduna9881143
Sokoto9677109
Jigawa838201
Edo6751124
Zamfara656203
Oyo6448142
Osun384304
Kwara302091
Nasarawa252302
Rivers211542
Kebbi201802
Delta171133
Akwa Ibom175102
Plateau171610
Adamawa171700
Taraba151500
Ondo15960
Yobe131201
Ekiti13841
Enugu10820
Ebonyi7700
Niger6420
Bayelsa5500
Imo3210
Benue2200
Abia2110
Anambra1010

COVID-19 Deaths Top 270,000 Worldwide

A health worker helps his colleague with his PPE during a community testing as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 270,000 people worldwide since it began in China late last year, with more than 85 percent of fatalities in Europe and the United States, according to an AFP tally compiled from official figures at 1615 GMT on Friday.

In total, 270,927 deaths have been reported across the globe from 3,877,772 confirmed cases.

Europe is the most affected continent with 153,367 deaths and 1,678,485 cases. The United States is the country with the most deaths at 75,781, followed by Britain with 31,241, Italy 30,201, Spain 26,299 and France  25,987.

 

AFP

COVID-19 Death Toll In UK Rises By 739

 

Britain’s overall death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose by 739 to 27,510 on Friday, as new data indicated that people in disadvantaged areas were worse hit.

The increase came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the country had met its goal of achieving 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.

A total of 122,347 tests were achieved on Thursday, he told a daily briefing about the government’s response to the pandemic, calling the increase an “incredible achievement”.

“The testing capacity that we’ve built together will help every single person in this country,” he said. “Testing is crucial to suppress the virus.”

The 100,000 target had looked out of reach at the beginning of the week, when only 43,000 people were being tested per day despite a capacity for 73,000.

Friday’s number includes thousands of home testing kits that have been sent in the post but not yet returned. The minister paid tribute to delivery companies including Yodel for helping to send out the tests.

The government has faced weeks of criticism, particularly from health and social care workers, who say they have been unable to get tests despite dealing with COVID-19 patients.

It also faced a backlash for not including deaths in care homes and the wider community in official statistics, forcing a change on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that Britain was “past the peak” of the outbreak, and that wider testing would be key to keeping transmission rates down.

Hancock said testing would also be crucial to lifting stringent lockdown measures imposed in late March and restoring social and economic freedoms.

Death and Deprivation

Hancock also said the government was concerned about Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures about the effect the virus has had on more deprived parts of the country.

The virus has had a disproportionate impact on black and ethnic minority communities, the elderly, men and the obese.

The ONS earlier revealed that areas of England with the worst rankings for income, health, education and crime, suffered 55.1 deaths per 100,000 people due to COVID-19.

That compared to 25.3 per 100,000 in the least deprived areas.

“This is something that we’re worried about,” Hancock said.

“We’re… trying to understand the impact of the virus as much as we possible can as and when we get new evidence.”

According to the ONS, general mortality rates involving all causes of deaths, including COVID-19, were 88 per cent higher in the most deprived areas than in the least.

But when looking at the impact of deprivation on COVID-19 mortality, the rate in the most disadvantaged areas of England was 118 per cent higher than in more well-off locations.

“People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas,” said Nick Stripe, ONS head of health analysis.

The ONS figures, which analysed deaths between March 1 and April 17, confirmed London was the epicentre of Britain’s outbreak, which is the second-worst in Europe behind Italy.

Complex Picture

The capital had the highest mortality rate in the country, with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 people involving COVID-19.

This was more than double the next highest area, the West Midlands — which includes the city of Birmingham — where there were 43.2 deaths involving coronavirus per 100,000 people.

The east London borough of Newham was worst hit, with 144.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

London and Birmingham are the most diverse areas of Britain, a fact that has been used to explain why ethnic minorities have been particularly affected by the outbreak.

But a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank on Friday suggests a more complex picture.

It notes that most minorities are younger on average than the general population, so should be less vulnerable.

But “after stripping out the role of age and geography, Bangladeshi hospital fatalities are twice those of the white British group, Pakistani deaths are 2.9 times as high and black African deaths 3.7 times as high”, it said.

“Bangladeshi men have high rates of underlying health problems, and black Africans and Indian men are particularly exposed to the virus due to their prevalence in healthcare roles.”

COVID-19: Spain Sees Sharp Drop In Daily Death Toll

Healthcare workers wearing face masks observe three-minutes of silence in memory of COVID-19 victims outside La Fe hospital in Valencia on April 19, 2020. – Spain registered a sharp drop in its daily death toll from the new coronavirus, with the number falling to 410 from 565. JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP.

 

Spain registered a sharp drop in its daily death toll from the new coronavirus on Sunday, with the number falling to 410 from 565.

The total number of fatalities in Spain, the third hardest-hit country in the world after the US and Italy, has reached 20,453, the health ministry said.

“It’s a number that gives us hope,” said health ministry emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon of the daily death toll, at its lowest in four weeks.

“It’s the first time we are under 500 dead since the daily tolls began to climb.”

Infections rose to 195,344, with 4,218 new cases in the past 24 hours.

But Simon admitted the fall in the number of deaths from Saturday to Sunday can be explained by the lower registration of fatalities over the weekend. Such a drop is often followed by a rise at the start of the week.

READ ALSO: Brighton’s Amex Stadium To Become COVID-19 Testing Centre 

Spanish authorities believe the country reached the peak of the pandemic on April 2 when they had counted 950 deaths in 24 hours. But they are not ready to recommend a lifting of the nationwide lockdown, one of the tightest in Europe.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday announced he would ask parliament to extend the lockdown by two weeks to May 9.

The restrictions currently in place would, however, be loosened slightly to allow children time outside from April 27, Sanchez said.

AFP

Spain’s COVID-19 Daily Death Toll Falls Again

This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP
This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP

 

Spain registered a fall in its daily death toll from the new coronavirus for a third consecutive day on Saturday with 510 people dying, the government said.

It was the smallest daily increase since March 23 in Spain, which is suffering one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.

The update for the last 24 hours raised the country’s overall number of fatalities to 16,353 and the number of confirmed cases another 4,800 to 161,852.

Masks will be handed out at metro and train stations from Monday as some companies re-open after a two-week “hibernation” period, the health minister said Friday.

Although health chiefs say the pandemic has peaked, they have urged the population to strictly follow the national lockdown which was put in place on March 14 in order to slow the spread of the virus.

The restrictions will remain in place until April 25 although the government has made clear it expects to announce another two-week extension.

Spain toughened its nationwide lockdown on March 30, halting all non-essential activities until after Easter as it sought to further curb the spread of the virus.

 

AFP

Syria War Records Lowest Monthly Death Toll In 9 Years

A Syrian walks on the rubble of a building following a regime airstrike on Ariha town in Syria’s last major opposition bastion of Idlib on January 15, 2020. Regime airstrikes on Syria’s last major opposition bastion killed at least nine civilians Wednesday, striking bustling areas of Idlib city despite a fresh Russian-sponsored truce, a war monitor said. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP

 

The war in Syria killed 103 civilians in March, marking the lowest monthly non-combatant death toll since the start of the conflict in 2011, a war monitor said Wednesday.

Of the total deaths, some 51 people were killed in shelling and airstrikes by the Syrian regime, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The bulk of the remaining casualties were caused either by explosive remnants or mysterious “assassinations”, the Observatory added.

The civilian death toll was more than double that of March in February, when a regime offensive on Syria’s last major rebel bastion was still in full swing.

According to the Observatory, the number of deaths that month stood at 275.

The war in Syria has left more than 380,000 people dead since it started nine years ago.

The highest civilian death toll recorded in a month since the start of the conflict was 1,590 in July 2016, when battles between rebels and the regime raged in the northern province of Aleppo.

READ ALSO: China Lockdown May Have Blocked 700,000 Coronavirus Cases – Research

Damascus in early March paused a military offensive on rebels and jihadists in Syria’s northwest, after a ceasefire brokered by regime ally Russia came into effect.

The Moscow-backed campaign had displaced nearly a million people in the region since December, piling pressure on informal settlements already brimming with families forced to flee previous bouts of violence.

The fate of the displaced has been a key concern of aid groups amid an outbreak in the country of the novel coronavirus, which has killed two and infected eight others.

The United Nations has appealed for a nation-wide ceasefire to tackle the novel coronavirus threat, while aid groups have warned of a health catastrophe if the pandemic hits overcrowded displacement camps or crammed regime prisons.

AFP

Coronavirus Death Toll Now Over 25,000

A picture taken on March 25, 2020, shows the burial of a victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. AFP
A picture taken on March 25, 2020, shows the burial of a victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive for the coronavirus on Friday as Spain suffered its deadliest day yet in a pandemic that has now killed more than 25,000 people around the world.

In a pair of grim milestones, an AFP tally showed the number of deaths hitting 25,066, most of them in Europe, and the United States overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus cases.

Economies were reeling — the head of the IMF said it was clear the world had entered a recession — and Africa’s business powerhouse South Africa became the latest nation to start life under lockdown as it reported its first COVID-19 deaths.

Johnson, whose country has seen more than 14,000 declared coronavirus cases and 759 deaths, said he had developed mild symptoms over the previous 24 hours and was self-isolating after testing positive.

Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock also tested positive with mild symptoms.

Spain reported that its death toll had hit 4,858 after 769 people died in 24 hours, a record one-day figure.

It was higher than the latest toll from hard-hit Italy, where experts said the epidemic could peak in the next few days but regional authorities warned the crisis was far from over.

The rate of new infections also appeared to be slowing in Spain, something officials cautiously described as “promising”.

Europe has suffered the brunt of the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks, with millions across the continent on lockdown and the streets of Paris, Rome and Madrid eerily empty.

‘She just had a cough’

In France — where nearly 1,700 people have died — the government announced it was extending its stay-at-home order until at least April 15.

“We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

The death of a 16-year-old girl from the virus has particularly shaken France, and shattered the belief of many young people that they are immune.

The girl’s mother Sabine told AFP that Julie “just had a cough” at first but deteriorated quickly. She died on Wednesday, less than a week after showing her first symptoms.

“It’s unbearable,” Sabine said. “We were supposed to have a normal life.”

‘They didn’t listen’

Focus was also turning to the United States, where the number of known infections reached almost 86,000, higher than both China and Italy.

In New York City, health workers are battling a surging toll of dead and infected at the US epicentre of the crisis, including an increasing number of younger patients.

“Now it’s 50-year-olds, 40-year-olds, 30-year-olds,” said one respiratory therapist at the Jewish Medical Center in Queens.

They “didn’t listen about not going out or protecting themselves and washing their hands”, he said.

“To watch somebody in their 30s die, it’s hard. You can’t have visitors. They’re in the room by themselves on a ventilator. It’s very depressing.”

The coronavirus first emerged in China late last year before spreading globally, with almost 550,000 declared cases in 183 countries and territories.

Every day, scientists and epidemiologists pore over the exponential growth of the pandemic to see if they can get ahead of the curve to limit the spread.

Over the last six days, as many new cases have been diagnosed around the world as in the previous 80 days.

Beijing managed to contain its spread with lockdowns and quarantines and its epicentre Wuhan is in the process of easing severe movement restrictions in place for two months.

Three billion people around the world have been told to stay indoors, upending normal life across the world.

Health care systems even in the most developed nations are stretched to breaking point and medical workers have been having to make difficult choices.

“If I’ve got five patients and only one bed, I have to choose who gets it,” Sara Chinchilla, a paediatrician at a hospital near Madrid, told AFP.

Lockdowns and other measures are wreaking havoc on the global economy, with fears of a downturn worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“It is clear that we have entered a recession” that will be worse than in 2009 following the global financial crisis, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said Friday.

Leaders from the Group of 20 major economies held crisis talks by video link on Thursday, announcing a $5 trillion financial rescue package “to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic”.

Unprecedented stimulus measures have helped markets bounce back after a brutal month, but people around the world are bracing for economic hardship.

The United States reported that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week — by far the highest number ever recorded.

Retail workers in particular have suffered as many countries shutter non-essential business, while airlines and the global tourism industry have been dealt devastating blows.

Armies of volunteers

The World Tourism Organization said Friday it expected tourist arrivals to fall by 20-30 percent this year, with losses of $300 billion-450 billion in international tourism receipts.

But there have been rays of hope in the midst of the crisis.

Armed groups in Cameroon, the Philippines and Yemen have moved in recent days to reduce violence after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued an appeal for ceasefires.

And armies of volunteers have emerged in many countries to bring help to the needy, with food deliveries for the elderly, free taxi rides, accommodation for health workers, and even home-sewn face masks.

“We delivered urgent diabetes medicines today to Claudia, who is 70 and lives with her 90-year-old mother. We passed them through the window,” said Lorenzo Mastrocesare, a volunteer in Rome.

Iran Coronavirus Death Toll Rises To 77

A member of a medical team takes a the temperature of an Iraqi traveller at the Shalamjah border crossing, some 15 kms southeast of the city of Basra, upon his return from Iran on February 21, 2020.  Hussein FALEH / AFP

 

Iran’s health ministry announced on Tuesday that 11 more people had died from the new coronavirus in the past day, bringing the Islamic republic’s overall death toll to 77.

In all, 2,336 people have been infected, including 835 new cases — the biggest increase in a single day since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the country nearly two weeks ago.

“According to the latest figures, 835 new patients have been added” to the overall number of infections, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in remarks aired live on state television.

“Unfortunately, we have 11 new deaths, and with this amount we have reached 2,336 new confirmed cases and a total of 77 dead.”

Iran announced on February 19 its first two deaths from the coronavirus in Qom, a centre for Islamic studies and pilgrims from abroad.

It now has the highest death toll for any country outside China, where the virus has killed more than 2,900 people since late December.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iranians to stick to hygiene guidelines to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

“The health care guidelines for preventing infection from this virus should be observed,” Khamenei, who was wearing gloves as he planted a tree, said on state television.

The supreme leader said Iran was being transparent with its figures on the outbreak and accused other countries of trying to conceal them.

“The #Coronavirus has affected many countries,” he was quoted as saying on his official Twitter account.

“Our officials have reported with sincerity and transparency since day one.

“However, some countries where the outbreak has been more serious have tried to hide it.

“Of course, we ask God to heal the sick in those countries too,” he added.

Iran on Saturday dismissed a BBC Persian report that the real number of coronavirus deaths in the country was more than 200.

The United States and Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have accused Iran of concealing information about the outbreak.

AFP

COVID-19: Death Toll In China Surpasses 1,500

Workers manufacture hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP
Workers manufacture hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

 

The death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,500 on Saturday but new infections fell following a mid-week surge caused by a change in the way cases are counted.

More than 66,000 people have now been infected in China from a virus that emerged in central Hubei province in December before spreading across the country a month later and causing global panic.

Some 1,700 medical workers have been infected, with six dying from the COVID-19 illness, officials said, underscoring the country’s struggle to contain the deepening health crisis.

Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged that the outbreak exposed “shortcomings” in the country’s health emergency response system.

Battling the outbreak is a “big test for the country’s governance system and governance ability,” Xi said as he chaired a political meeting on government reforms this week, according to state media.

Chinese authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.

A number of cities far from the epicentre have also imposed tough measures limiting the number of people who can leave their homes, while schools remain closed nationwide and many companies have encouraged employees to work from home.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services with the country.

But the epidemic has continued to spread across China and hundreds of cases have emerged in more than two dozen countries.

In Singapore, which has 67 confirmed cases, the Roman Catholic Church said it was suspending all masses indefinitely to help prevent the spread of the virus and urged the faithful to follow services on YouTube or the radio.

Fewer new cases

The National Health Commission reported 143 new deaths on Saturday, with all but four in Hubei, raising the toll to 1,523.

The commission also reported 2,641 new cases of the COVID-19 strain, with the vast majority in Hubei.

The number, however, was almost half those reported the previous day.

The scale of the epidemic swelled this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.

Previously, they were counting only cases with a positive lab test result but are now also including those “clinically diagnosed” through lung imaging.

Officials said the change was necessary to ensure that patients get treated early amid reports of backlogs in lab tests.

The revision added nearly 15,000 patients to Hubei’s tally on Thursday, with the World Health Organization noting that cases going back weeks were retroactively counted.

“We’re seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnosis is being made to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

There were over 4,800 cases reported in Hubei on Friday and 2,420 on Saturday.

The number of new confirmed cases has been steadily falling outside Hubei, with 221 infections reported on Saturday.

A top Chinese scientist had predicted that the epidemic could peak by the end of this month after the number of new cases had fallen earlier in the week.

The WHO cautioned that it was “way too early” to make any predictions about the disease’s trajectory.

Authorities said Friday 1,716 medical workers have been infected during the outbreak, with six dying from the illness.

Most of the infections among health workers were in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, where many have lacked proper masks and gear to protect themselves in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.

The grim figures come a week after grief and public anger erupted over the death of a whistleblowing doctor who had raised the alarm about the virus in December and been reprimanded and silenced by police in Wuhan.

 

AFP