Deadliest day yet in coronavirus outbreak

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The province of Hubei in China reported 242 deaths from the coronavirus, the deadliest day since the outbreak of the virus was made public, and pushing the death toll to 1,355.

In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission also confirmed another 14,840 new cases of coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19. The total number of confirmed patients of the virus is now 48,206, an increase of 44%.

The sharp rise in coronavirus deaths and infections is being attributed to a revision in the diagnosis criteria, Hubei’s health commission claimed.

In other news on the coronavirus, experts from the World Health Organisation arrived in China to assist with controlling the epidemic.

“A virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

“It’s the worst enemy you can imagine.”

China’s military is sending 2,600 additional medical personnel to Hubei to help with virus control efforts in Wuhan, state news broadcaster CCTV said on Thursday.

The first batch of 1,400 personnel arrived in Wuhan on Thursday, adding the military has dispatched a total of three batches of more than 4,000 medical personnel.

A new case of coronavirus has been confirmed in San Diego, California, taking the total number of cases in the US to 14. The patient is among a group under quarantine after they returned to the US on a chartered flight from Hubei.

In the UK, a woman in London became the ninth person to test positive for coronavirus.

The patient, who is now being treated at a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, contracted the virus in China, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said.

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A cruise ship, with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board, which was turned away by five countries on fears that someone aboard may be infected with coronavirus, was accepted by Cambodia. The MS Westerdam was rejected by Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and Guam, and has spent around two weeks at sea. No-one has been allowed onshore.

Another 40 people – 29 passengers, 10 crew members and one quarantine officer – have tested positive to coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is quarantined off the coast of Japan. The latest infections means that 174 people have been infected on board the ship, with the quarantine officer excluded. Four people infected, three of whom are from Japan, are seriously ill.

Excluding China, there are 24 countries reporting cases of coronavirus.

There are four possible vaccines being developed for the coronavirus that could be tested within months, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist said. Human trials for one or two of the the vaccines could be launched in three or four months, Soumya Swaminathan told a press conference in Geneva. It would take one or one and a half years until a vaccine becomes available for wider use, the UN scientist cautioned.

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