Coronavirus: infections rise to 66,576, over 1,700 are doctors


Africa enters the list of continents infected with the first case found in Egypt.  The death toll is 1,524, including six doctors.  An ordinance imposing a 14-day quarantine on all those returning to the city after the Lunar New Year enters into force in Beijing.



Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In China, the number of infections of the Covid-19 coronavirus increased by 2,644 units overnight, thus bringing the total number of people affected by the disease to 66,576.  Of these, over 1,700 are doctors and health personnel engaged in patient care, especially in the province of Hubei, the epicenter of the epidemic.  In addition, with the first case found in Egypt, Africa becomes part of the continents affected by the virus.  South America and Antarctica are excluded for now.

Beijing authorities report that the death toll has risen to 1,524, of which 143 between yesterday and today.  Zeng Yixin, vice president of the Chinese National Health Commission, reports that there are also six doctors in the count of the deceased, including Li Wenliang, the "hero" doctor who first raised the alarm on the new  virus but had been silenced by the authorities, who accused him of "spreading rumors that disturb public order".  Rehabilitated by the scientific community, he died in hospital after contracting the infection by caring for his patients.

For researchers, the fact that China first released the death toll figure among healthcare workers is an indicative signal in the study of the transmissibility and spread of the virus.  The disclosure of the results to doctors is a consequence of the guidelines released this week with the adoption of new diagnostic criteria to identify lung infection.  However, for some it is too late: the first cases of pneumonia had already been ascertained on December 30th.

Globally, at least 25 countries are infected, for a total of 523 people and two dead (one in Japan and another in the Philippines).  The highest number of infections is registered in Japan (259), where the cruise ship "Diamond Princess" is still moored at the port of Yokohama, with 3,500 people on board, of whom 218 tested positive.  Followed by Singapore (67 patients), Thailand (33), South Korea (28), Malaysia (19), Vietnam and Germany (both with 16 infected).

Since yesterday, an ordinance has been in force in Beijing that imposes a 14-day quarantine period on all those returning to the city.  In fact, the capital is still deserted due to the shifts of the lunar New Year period, when the inhabitants return to their places of origin to celebrate with relatives and friends.  Municipal authorities warn that anyone who "refuses to undergo observation at home or in public facilities and other prevention and control measures will be prosecuted according to the law".