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nCoV outbreak not yet pandemic: WHO

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427 dead as China admits ‘shortcomings’ in response

London, February 4: The deadly coronavirus outbreak that has spread from China does not yet constitute a “pandemic”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, according to the WHO.
At least 427 people have died with more than 20,000 confirmed cases around the world, most of them in China. Officials say 425 people have died in China and one in Hong Kong. One death has also been confirmed in the Philippines.
China’s National Health Commission said that the overall number of confirmed cases in the Asian giant was 20,438.
It received reports of 3,235 new confirmed cases and 64 deaths on Monday from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. All of the deaths were in Hubei province, whose capital Wuhan is the epicentre of the outbreak.
Also on Monday, 492 patients became seriously ill, while 2,788 patients remained in severe condition, and a total of 23,214 people were suspected of being infected with the virus. A total of 632 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.
The new death toll in China has exceeded the 349 mainland fatalities from the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak in more than 2 dozen countries.
However, with more than 20,400 confirmed infections, the mortality rate of the new virus is about 2.1% ~ much lower than that of SARS at around 9.6% ~ suggesting that it was not as deadly.
The disease is believed to have emerged in a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals, spreading rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.
Meanwhile, China’s Politburo Standing Committee on Monday admitted “shortcomings and deficiencies” in the country’s response to the deadly outbreak.
More than two dozen nations have reported cases but, so far, no confirmations have been made across Africa or Latin America.
On Tuesday, three more Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – confirmed infections among citizens who had not travelled to China.
Besides China, the other countries where Coronavirus cases have been reported are Japan (20), Thailand (19), Singapore (18), South Korea (15), Hong Kong (15), Australia (12), Taiwan (11), the US (11), Germany (10), Malaysia (8), Macao (8), Vietnam (8), France (6), UAE (5), Canada (4), Italy (2), the UK (2), India (3), Philippines (2), Russia (2), Cambodia (1), Finland (1), Nepal (1), Sri Lanka (1), Spain (1) and Sweden (1).
The new coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.
Meanwhile, a WHO-led international team of experts is reportedly set to go to China as early as this week to investigate the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, as agreed between the world body chief and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The team may also include US experts, a WHO spokesman said.
In the wake of rapidly increasing cases of the deadly virus across the world, the World Health Organisation last month declared the novel Coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency.
This is the 6th time the WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern after it did so during the outbreaks of H1N1 in 2009; the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014 and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019; polio in 2014; and the Zika virus in 2016.
(Agencies)

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