New confirmed coronavirus infections drop by almost half in China: spokesperson

New confirmed coronavirus infections drop by almost half in China: spokesperson

New confirmed coronavirus infections drop by almost half in China: spokesperson

The country is struggling to restart its economy after the annual Lunar New Year holiday was extended to try to keep people home and contain the virus.

The virus was officially named "COVID-19" at a conference in Geneva held by the World Health Organisation (WHO), where the body's chief said countries had a chance of stopping its global spread.

He said viruses have "more powerful consequences than any terrorist action".

The total number of confirmed cases of the illness in mainland China stands at 44,643. According to WHO´s most recent report, 17,000 people have passed away and 42,708 have been infected so far.

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was first identified in late December in the city of Wuhan, in central China.

The number of fatalities from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,113 nationwide on Wednesday after another 97 deaths were reported by the national health commission.

The biggest case of contagion outside China is aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan, where 175 people have tested positive, including two Ukrainians and a quarantine officer. Two people have died so far: One in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong. It is expected to remain in quarantine until February 19.

Most of the deaths have been in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicentre of the crisis. Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains how the report got it wrong.

At the same time, he noted that the number of other countries reporting cases - about two dozen - has not changed since February 4.

He also highlighted the rapid increase in the number of people cured and discharged from hospitals, bringing the recovery rate to 10.6 percent by Tuesday from the lowest level of 1.3 percent on January 27.

"Without the reopening of businesses, in the short term, it will affect the supply of medical material the long run, it will affect the supply of all kinds of production and life materials and will make the control and prevention efforts on the front line unsustainable". The virus belongs to the same family of viruses as the organisms which caused the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the MERS cases reported in 2012.

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