Coronavirus Infections Near 60,000 – Chinese Party Official Fired

There has been a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases of the nCoV-2019 coronavirus and a Communist Party of China official has been dismissed from his post.

On Wednesday, China’s hardest-hit province of Hubei reported 242 new deaths in relation to the mystery virus – more than double the previous deadliest day. The national death toll now reads at 1,355.

There were also a massive 14,840 new cases of infection diagnosed by health officials, taking the national total to almost 60,000.

However, it is worth noting that health officials are now using a broader definition for diagnosing patients and includes patients showing symptoms, confirmed by CT scans that confirm lung infections. Previously, they relied on a standard nucleic acid test, which has come under question due to a prevalence of “false negatives” in the results. Of the 242 new deaths in Wuhan – the city where the virus broke out last year, 135 are “clinically diagnosed” cases and the remaining deaths (107) is still a new high for the city.

In the meantime, Jiang Chaoliang, secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, has been dismissed from his post and was replaced by Shanghai Mayor, Ying Yong. Overall, there are 48,206 confirmed cases of infection in Hubei.

After weeks of uncertainty, the Westerdam was allowed to dock in Cambodia
Image: BBC [AFP]

Outside of China, a cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, carrying more than 2,000 people has docked in Cambodia after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand over fears that it was carrying infected passengers – despite no sick patients being on board.

World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, told BBC that it was “an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for.”

Elsewhere, the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined in Yokahoma, Japan, has confirmed that 175 passengers, and the quarantine officer on board, were diagnosed with the disease, according to the Japan Times. The US Centers for Disease Control has also confirmed that it is preparing for the disease to “take a foothold” in America, with the number of confirmed cases in the country now standing at 13. The Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled to take place in Shanghai on 19 April has been postponed, China has shut down several schools and 300 employees have been evacuated from the building of Singapore’s largest bank, DBS.

At least 25 countries outside of China have confirmed cases of the disease, with 441 people in total carrying the coronavirus outside of Chinese borders. Two deaths have been recorded – one in Hong Kong and the other in the Phillipines.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told BBC that a vaccine is currently being developed.

“I think we will find a vaccine,” she said. “It will take some time. A vaccine cannot be made overnight.”

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