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China reports large drop in new coronavirus cases in province at heart of outbreak

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China reports large drop in new coronavirus cases in province at heart of outbreak

By Linda Sieg and Ryan Woo

 

2020-02-19T114154Z_2_LYNXMPEG1I05K_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-HEALTH-JAPAN-SHIP.JPG

A member of the media approaches a passenger after he walked out from the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

 

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported a dramatic drop in new cases in the province at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, while Japan grappled with criticism over its failure to prevent the spread of the disease on a cruise ship filled with quarantined passengers.

 

China's central Hubei province had 349 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, down from 1,693 a day earlier and lowest since Jan. 25. The death toll rose by 108, down from 132 the previous day, bringing to total in China to over 2,100 deaths and 74,000 cases.

 

Hundreds of passengers trundled off a cruise ship in Japan on Wednesday after being held on board in quarantine for more than two weeks, as criticism mounted of Japan's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Even as passengers rolled their luggage off the Diamond Princess cruise liner, Japanese authorities announced 79 new cases had been discovered on board, bringing the total to at least 620, well over half of the known cases outside mainland China.

 

Optimism that China had contained or at least controlled the outbreak helped Asian and U.S. stocks rise. [MKTS/GLOB]

 

China is struggling to get its economy back on track after imposing severe travel restrictions to contain a virus that emerged in the central province of Hubei late last year.

 

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a blog post that China's economy would bounce back quickly if the disruptions end soon.

 

Hundreds of people began disembarking a quarantined cruise ship off Japan on Wednesday as the death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 and the number of new cases in the country fell for a second straight day. Michelle Hennessy reports.

 

Beyond mainland China, six people have died from the disease, and governments around the world are trying to prevent it from spreading into a global epidemic.

 

The Diamond Princess has been quarantined near Tokyo since Feb. 3, initially with about 3,700 people aboard. The rapid spread of the disease on board led to criticism of the Japanese authorities just months before Japan is due to host the Olympics.

 

From Wednesday, passengers who tested negative and showed no symptoms were free to leave. Around 500 were expected to disembark on Wednesday, with the rest of those eligible leaving over the next two days. Confirmed cases were to be sent to hospital, while those who shared cabins with infected passengers may still be kept on board.

 

Around half of the passengers and crew are Japanese, and are free to go home once cleared to leave. Other countries, including Canada, have said they will fly passengers home and quarantine them on arrival. The United States flew more than 300 passengers to air bases in California and Texas this week.

 

"I am very keen to get off this ship," Australian passenger Vicki Presland told Reuters over a social-media link. She was among a group of Australians catching an evacuation flight back to 14 days of quarantine in the city of Darwin.

 

"COMPLETELY INADEQUATE"

Infectious disease specialist Kentaro Iwata of Japan's Kobe University Hospital, who volunteered to help aboard the ship, described the infection control effort as "completely inadequate" and said basic protocols had not been followed.

 

"There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship and there was nobody in charge of infection prevention as a professional. The bureaucrats were in charge of everything," he said in a YouTube video.

 

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato defended Japan's efforts.

 

"Unfortunately, cases of infection have emerged, but we have to the extent possible taken appropriate steps to prevent serious cases," Kato said in a report by state broadcaster NHK.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan's efforts "may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship."

 

Clyde and Renee Smith, 80-year-old American cruise passengers hospitalized in Japan since testing positive for the virus on Feb. 3, learned on Wednesday they were still positive.

 

"We are very happy here," Clyde said from the couple's hospital room in western Tokyo. "They're taking excellent care of us. This is the newest, fanciest hospital I've ever seen."

 

From the start, experts raised questions about quarantine on the ship. Passengers were not confined to rooms until Feb. 5. The day before, as passengers were being screened, events continued, including dances, quiz games and an exercise class.

 

BETTER DAY IN CHINA

On top of tough steps taken to isolate Hubei, state media reported the province would track down anyone who visited doctors with fever since Jan. 20 or bought over-the-counter cough and fever medication.

 

Chinese officials have said the apparent slowdown in infection rates is evidence that the strict measures are working.

 

Epidemiologists outside China have said in recent days that reports from there are encouraging, but it is still too early to predict whether the epidemic will be contained.

 

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Sophie Yu in Beijing; Linda Sieg in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Se Young Lee in Beijing, Brenda Goh and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Colin Packham in Sydney; Sarah Wu in Hong Kong; Krishna Das in Kuala Lumpur; Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Peter Graff in London; Writing by Robert Birsel, Peter Graff and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Nick Macfie and Bill Berkrot)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-02-20

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Take that news with a grain of salt noddle!

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34 minutes ago, Somtamnication said:

Take that news with a grain of salt noddle!

no celebrations yet with today's stats;

 

Coronavirus Cases:

75,735 reported cases

Deaths:

2,129
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Meanwhile Iran reports two deaths in the city of Qom with an outbreak of infectious disease as images show military convoys on the way to lock down the city as all schools are closed.

 

World reaction: Uh-oh, Qom?

Edited by rabas
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10 hours ago, webfact said:

China reported a dramatic drop in new cases in the province at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak

that's because they changed the way of counting/reporting, which was clearly explained by WHO, unfortunately the cases still there

Edited by Mavideol

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Now I wish my Chinese nemesis (and friend) Traubert, can weigh in on the origin of the Wuhan virus.  I have read that the Chinese top secret virus lab, located a short distance from the vilified wet market in Wuhan, could be responsible for the outbreak.

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7 minutes ago, Isaan sailor said:

Now I wish my Chinese nemesis (and friend) Traubert, can weigh in on the origin of the Wuhan virus.  I have read that the Chinese top secret virus lab, located a short distance from the vilified wet market in Wuhan, could be responsible for the outbreak.

Rumours that can be traced back to the usual nutjobs and are only believable to the easily fooled.

Edited by stevenl
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12 hours ago, webfact said:

China reports large drop in new coronavirus cases in province at heart of outbreak

That doesn't mean anything, if the new cases aren't reported today  than of course the numbers go down  wait a few weeks and the gremlin will rase its head again. I hope to be wrong . :jap:

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Yes, reports. The story behind the report is something real news agencies would look into. Is everybody dead? Are they cooped in their condos? Did they run out of hospital beds or diagnosis equipment? Etc, etc.

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Numbers from China would be more believable if they didn't keep changing reporting methodology and actually let in medical experts to look at the real situation.

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