Coronavirus update 30 Jan: Death toll reaches 170, WHO to evaluate the outbreak again and more

With 40 new fatalities, and with 7,711 infected patients, the Chinese central province of Hubei continues to be under complete lockdown

Myupchar January 30, 2020 17:42:37 IST
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Coronavirus update 30 Jan: Death toll reaches 170, WHO to evaluate the outbreak again and more

China’s National Health Commission revealed late on January 29 that the number of deaths due to coronavirus has now risen to a total of 170. With 40 new fatalities, and with 7,711 infected patients, the Chinese central province of Hubei continues to be under complete lockdown as it was discovered that the virus spread from the wholesale animal market in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

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Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

A new hospital with 1,000 beds was opened on January 29 in Huanggang, a city close to Wuhan, to deal with the rising numbers of infected patients. The Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre had an empty building, which was prepared and made functional for patients in 48 hours. Another hospital is being built from the ground up in Wuhan itself and is expected to be completed by Monday, February 3.

Foreign citizens in China

With the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases now confirmed in about 20 countries, including the UAE and Finland, evacuations of foreign citizens living in China have begun in full force. Emergency flights were chartered by the governments of these countries to evacuate their citizens, who were isolated on arrival at airports or special medical centres to conduct a medical evaluation to confirm whether or not they had contracted the virus.

Japan evacuated 206 citizens on the January 29 and 211 on the January 30, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed that three of the 206 had been confirmed to have been infected. According to Reuters, the US airlifted 200 Americans from China on the 29th, who were taken to a US military base in California where they will be quarantined for 72 hours for medical evaluation.

Meanwhile, it has now been confirmed that the Indian patient suspected to have been infected by coronavirus actually has a streptococcal infection. Preeti Maheshwari, an art teacher in Shenzhen, was admitted on January 11 after showing symptoms similar to those of coronavirus . Maheshwari’s family revealed that she’s now on her way to recovering from strep. 

The WHO on coronavirus

While the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the spread of coronavirus infection to more countries, it has not yet declared it to be a global emergency situation. The Emergency Committee is going to convene January 30 to evaluate the rapid spread of the virus via human-to-human transmission. They will decide whether a global emergency should be declared to limit the potential of becoming a pandemic. It must be noted here that the same committee declined to make such an announcement of global emergency twice last week.

However, in a recent news conference, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove (a member of the WHO Emergency Committee) revealed that this coronavirus can be spread via fomites, which are surfaces and objects that the virus can sit on for a short period of time. While WHO officials are still unsure about how contagious coronavirus is, the idea that it can be spread by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces is worrying.

If you notice flu-like symptoms in yourself or loved ones, reach out to a medical professional immediately. Dr Archana Nirula, senior medical officer at myupchar.com and a gynaecologist with 25 years of experience says, "If your immunity is low or you are at the extremes of age (infants and aged people) and you have shortness of breath, fever and cough, it would be a good idea to consult a doctor soon. If you've recently travelled abroad or been in touch with someone who has, please tell your doctor about it."

Scientific developments

In the meantime, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on January 29 has confirmed that human-to-human transmission since mid-December 2019 was the main cause of the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan. The research, funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, also revealed that the incubation period for the virus is 5.2 days. This revelation is important because the incubation period of coronavirus was previously thought to be 2-14 days.

Another news from the scientific community might bring some hope. Scientists in Hong Kong have developed a vaccine that they hope will prevent the spread of coronavirus . While this vaccine is at least a year away from being tested and proven safe for the public, governments across the world are releasing guidelines for the public to avoid mass panic about coronavirus .

However, the Indian Ministry of AYUSH published an advisory yesterday where it recommended homeopathy and unani medicine — apart from good hygiene practices — for the treatment of coronavirus . These alternative medicinal treatments are unfortunately not backed by science, so whether they can be used for the “symptomatic management” of coronavirus or not is doubtful. 

For more information, read our article on Coronavirus: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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