Experts question delay in action as death toll crosses 2,780 in China

Updated: Feb 29, 2020, 08:34 IST | Agencies | Beijing

44 new deaths and 327 confirmed cases reported on Thursday from all over China, far lower than the earlier days, China's Health Commission said

A security guard checks the temperature of customers at a store entrance in Shanghai. Pic/AFP
A security guard checks the temperature of customers at a store entrance in Shanghai. Pic/AFP

Forty-four more people have died of the novel Coronavirus [COVID-19] in China, taking the death toll in the outbreak to 2,788, Chinese health officials said on Friday, amid growing criticism from experts and the public that the epidemic would have been less severe if the authorities acted when the first confirmed case was reported in December. Among the deaths reported on Thursday, 41 were from the epicentre Hubei province and it's capital Wuhan, two in Beijing and one in Xinjiang, the National Health Commission said in its daily report.

A total of 44 new deaths and 327 confirmed cases were reported on Thursday from all over China, far lower than the earlier days, it said.The overall confirmed cases in the mainland have reached 78,824 by the end of Thursday. In all, 2,788 people have died of the disease so far, it said.As virulence of the disease slowed, criticism of Chinese officials' attempts to hide the outbreak in its early stage was highlighted by the official media on Thursday in a rare public criticism of the system of secrecy in governance. While China's massive response in trying to localise the virus to Hubei province with a strong measure like locking over 18 cities including Wuhan with over 50 million people came for praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO), criticism is also growing at home over why it was not nipped in the bud. The situation should have been better if the control measures were taken earlier Zhong Nanshan, said a leading epidemiologist who was also among those in the expert groups dispatched by the central government to the epicentre Wuhan.

Nigeria confirms first case
Lagos Nigeria on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel Coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa. "The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy, to Lagos Nigeria, on the 25th of February 2020," Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a statement on Twitter. "The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos." Prior to the case in Nigeria, two cases had surfaced across all of Africa — in Egypt and in Algeria — a tally that had puzzled health specialists, given the continent's close economic ties with China. The WHO warned earlier this week that African health systems were ill-equipped to respond to the deadly Coronavirusoutbreak should cases start to proliferate on the continent.

$5 trillion wiped off markets
According to Reuters, the rapid spread of Coronavirusraised fears of a pandemic on Friday, with countries on three continents reporting their first cases and Swiss authorities cancelling the giant Geneva car show. World share markets crashed again, compounding their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the global wipeout to $5 trillion.

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No. of countries exposed to the virus

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