01/29/2020, 09.34
CHINA
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Beijing: Coronavirus overtakes SARS infection rate

The National Health Commission reports that the death toll for the virus identified as "2019-nCoV" has risen to 132. Confirmed cases of infection are 5,974.  In 2003, Sars infected 5,327 people and killed 349 in mainland China;  another 299 in Hong Kong.

 

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Confirmed cases of contagion from a new coronavirus that causes pneumonia reached 5,974 in China, exceeding the number of infections that occurred during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2002-2003.  Beijing state media reported it today. 

The National Health Commission reports that the death toll for the virus identified as "2019-nCoV" has risen to 132, with 26 new deaths and another 1,459 cases confirmed since yesterday evening;  medical personnel are monitoring another 9 thousand suspects.

Following the Sars epidemic in 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) criticized China for underestimating the number of cases.  That year, the disease infected 5,327 people and killed 349 in mainland China;  another 299 in Hong Kong. 

According to the WHO, the virus - which has infected 8,098 people worldwide - originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.  In May 2004, the international body announced that China was free from Sars.

In Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of the latest crisis, pneumonia killed 125 people.  The virus has infected about 60 people in 14 other countries. 

Health authorities believe that the disease - transmissible among humans - has started to spread in the city located about 1,000 kilometers south of Beijing.  The urban center is an important commercial hub, with a population of 11 million.  The government has ordered the isolation of the area starting from 23 January.  Similar and unprecedented measures are also in place in neighboring cities, such as Huanggang and Ezhou, affecting over 50 million citizens.

Japan extracted about 200 citizens from Wuhan;  the United States evacuated about 240 Americans by air.  Other international governments are organizing similar operations.  The European Commission said it will make two aircraft available to bring citizens back to the EU, with 250 French leaving on the first flight.  Hong Kong - a scene of anti-Chinese unrest for months - yesterday suspended rail and ferry connections to mainland China.

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