Coronavirus update 4 Feb: Death toll at 427, second death outside China, Kerala announces ‘state calamity’ and more

On the last count, over 20,636 cases of the infection had been confirmed and there have now been 427 deaths globally.

Myupchar February 04, 2020 15:18:01 IST
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Coronavirus update 4 Feb: Death toll at 427, second death outside China, Kerala announces ‘state calamity’ and more

The death toll and confirmed number of cases from the Wuhan coronavirus continue to rise in China and across the world. On the last count, over 20,636 cases of the infection had been confirmed and there have now been 427 deaths globally. In mainland China, deaths have now exceeded those caused by SARS in 2002-2003. 

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Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Data from the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) show that there are nearly 200 confirmed cases of the 2019 coronavirus infection outside of China now. These cases are in countries as far apart as the USA, the UK, the Philippines, Australia and India.

The state of Kerala, where all the 3 Indian cases are, declared the situation as a ‘state calamity’ on February 3. Hong Kong and the Philippines have both announced the first death from the virus in their countries. Both cases had a history of travel to Wuhan.

How the world is responding

Chinese health officials confirmed that they would welcome assistance from the USA. A World Health Organisation (WHO) mission consisting of US health experts is now expected to help limit the extent of the outbreak.

The Chinese have built a new hospital in Wuhan at lightning speed, which has over 1000 beds. Wuhan has been cut off the rest of the country and has been running short of supplies, so the hope is that the new hospital will make it better prepared to fight the outbreak.

A Japanese cruise ship has been docked and thousands of passengers stranded after one passenger tested positive with the virus. Health officials are now screening all of the other passengers and crew on board for the virus. 

Australia sent hundreds of Wuhan evacuees to a remote island in the Indian ocean in an effort to prevent transmission.

More countries are restricting travel to China as well. The USA, Australia and Singapore are denying entry to anyone who has recently been to China, while New Zealand and Israel have denied entry to passengers from mainland China. Countries such as the UK and Italy have halted flights to mainland China as well. Mongolia and Russia (partially) plan to close their borders with China as well. 

Experts are projecting that this outbreak may affect economies around the globe. China's stock markets fell by nearly 8% when they opened on February 3. 

New research on the virus

However, in recent days, there has been an increase in recoveries as well - 669 recovery cases have been confirmed. While it is difficult to ascertain mortality rate since the virus is still new, approximately 2% of total cases are fatal. With SARS, this figure was around 9.6%. Experts say as milder cases come to light this figure will go further down. 

Research by the Health and Medical Research Fund, Hong Kong, shows that the 2019 n-CoV epidemic doubles every 6.4 days. So if one person is sick today, in 6.4 days two people will have the viral infection and so on.

Two separate studies recently published in Nature examined the genomic structure of the Wuhan coronavirus . They suggest that the virus closely resembles the one that caused SARS. It appears that it originated in bats, but that there was an intermediate host animal as well. An earlier theory, that the virus originated in snakes, has since been debunked. 

The virus uses a similar mechanism as the SARS virus to penetrate the lungs and cause symptoms of pneumonia. One of the studies, conducted by the Fudan University groups, concluded that the virus was 89.1% similar to the one that caused SARS. 

These initial studies are providing a better understanding of the virus and will greatly help in mounting an offensive against the virus.

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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