Wuhan Medical Treatment Centre

The death toll in China as a result of the novel coronavirus has surpassed 1,000 today (1 February) following the announcement that Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December, reported 103 new deaths.

Hubei province alone has confirmed 2,079 new cases on Monday, bringing the total up to 31,728. There have also been 974 deaths there. That’s a fatality rate of 3.07 percent. It was reported to also have a total of over 16,000 suspected cases. Province authorities said it would run tests all the suspected cases within a day.

These new cases from Hubei bring the number of cases confirmed across China beyond 42,600.

On Monday, China’s President Xi Jinping paid a visit to frontline medical workers and patients at a hospital in Beijing. There, he called for “more decisive measures” in containing the outbreak, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

That same day, an advance team arrived for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) international expert mission on the deadly virus. The mission is led by Bruce Aylward who had overseen the WHO’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 to 2016.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern, ahead of the team’s arrival, of certain cases overseas involving patients with no travel history to China.

He said, “It could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire.”

“But for now it is only a spark. Our objective remains containment,” he said, adding that a concerted global effort was needed “to fight this virus before it gets out of control,” he added.

The virus continues to spread, panic is rising

The evolving situation sees a gradual increase in the number of new cases in the 25 countries that have confirmed infections so far.

In Britain, the number of cases doubled to 8 in one day, leading the government to declare the outbreak a ‘serious and imminent threat to public health’.

In Japan’s port of Yokohama, a cruise ship carrying 3,700 passengers and crew have been quarantined as 135 cases of the virus were confirmed onboard.

In Singapore, the number of cases have risen to 44 as of 10 February, with 23 of them being locally transmitted. Several of those have had no recent travel history to China and no close contact with any of the previously confirmed cases. Though on the bright side, seven of the previously confirmed cases have apparently recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospital, according to the Ministry of Health.

On Friday, the country’s  Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level was raised from Yellow to Orange, the second most urgent level. This sparked a sense of panic among the public which led to a spate of panic purchases for canned food and essential items at grocery stores over the weekend. 

Ministers have come forward to reassure the public that there is enough essential items for the entire population and that they do not need to panic.

On Friday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on his Facebook page: “Our supply lines for these essentials are intact and there is no risk of us running a shortage of essential food or household items. We also have our national stockpile for essential items.”

He went on to remind the public that they all have to play their part and exercise individual responsibility and not hoard items unnecessarily.

“This will create undue panic and is unhelpful to the situation at hand.”

Over the weekend, at a community event at Jurong Spring, Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing once again emphasized that Singaporeans should allow cool heads to prevail and remain calm during the global health crisis.

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