First coronavirus victim in Hong Kong. The deaths in China rise to 426
by Paul Wang

The man who died in Hong Kong had been in Wuhan on January 21st. He infected his mother, who lived with him. He already had some disease. Chief executive Carrie Lam closes almost all ports and routes of communication with China. In the country, the number of infected rises to 20,472; 23,214 cases not yet confirmed. Another 151 cases are registered in 23 countries worldwide. The Politburo admits "shortcomings and difficulties" in managing the epidemic. Macau closes casinos.


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Health authorities today announced the first death from coronaviruses in the area. The victim, a 39-year-old man, is the second person to die outside China after the death of a 44-year-old man in the Philippines two days ago.

The Hong Kong government specified that the man had been in Wuhan (Hubei), the epicenter of the epidemic, on January 21 last and returned to Hong Kong on January 23. At the end of last month, he developed a fever and was diagnosed as having coronavirus and isolated in the Princess Margaret Hospital. The man died of a heart attack, confirming the fact that coronavirus is fatal especially for patients who already have some other underlying pathology.

The first victim in Hong Kong lived with his mother in Hong Hum. She is also affected by the virus, given contacts with her son. So far, 15 cases of infection have been recognized in Hong Kong.

Most people are concerned that the epidemic may spread to the overpopulated territory which has an enormous volume of contacts with China. Many still have the nightmare of the Sars epidemic (2002-2003) which cost the lives of 300 people.

The government is under pressure because groups of doctors and nurses are demanding that all passages with China be closed to avoid a volume of contagion impossible to contain. The government of Carrie Lam first refused, then agreed to reduce the ports of entry and the ways of communication with the motherland.

In China, meanwhile, there is still an increase in deaths and infections. There were 426 deaths as of this morning at 10; 20,472 are infected; cases not yet confirmed 23,214. Another 151 cases are registered in 23 countries worldwide.

Yesterday, the foreign ministry in Beijing said that the country "urgently needs" sanitary material such as masks, protective glasses, insulating suits. In a rare example of self-criticism, the Politburo Standing Committee admitted that there were "shortcomings and difficulties" in managing the epidemic. But he has only proposed more verification of the sale of wild animals in the markets. It is a common opinion, in fact - confirmed also by some scientists - that the epidemic has developed from bats.

President Xi Jinping, who chaired the committee, said the Chinese people "launched a war to prevent the epidemic."

In Macau, chief executive Ho Iat-seng has asked that all casinos be closed until at least the middle of the month.

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