Coronavirus: more than 800 dead, global SARS toll exceeded


The new coronavirus has killed more than 800 people, almost all in China, now surpassing the global SARS toll, but WHO said it saw “good news” in stabilizing the daily number of infections.

The 2019-nCoV virus, which appeared in a market in Wuhan (center) in December, killed an additional 89 people in mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao), a new daily record, the National Health Commission announced on Sunday. While part of the country is de facto quarantined, the toll of the epidemic in mainland China has now reached 811 dead, to which is added one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. It now exceeds that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2003.  

While part of the country is de facto quarantined, the toll of the epidemic in mainland China has now reached 811 dead, to which is added one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. It now exceeds that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2003. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) however estimated on Saturday that the number of contamination cases detected daily in China is stabilizing, even if it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has passed its peak. 

Decreasing contamination

“We have a four-day stability period where the number of reported cases has not increased. This is good news and it could reflect the impact of the controls that have been put in place, “said WHO emergency health program manager Michael Ryan

In mainland China, the number of confirmed cases was nearly 37,200 on Sunday, 2,600 more than the previous daily toll.  

The latter figure is significantly lower than the nearly 3,900 new infections announced on Wednesday by the Chinese authorities in their daily report.  

Columbia scientist Ian Lipkin of the United States says the epidemic could peak in the next two weeks before dropping off sharply – even if there is a “start” when people return to work massively.  

The arrival of warm weather could also help stem the epidemic, said an expert who had worked in China on SARS during a conference call.  

Open letters 

In view of the ebb of new contamination, “I think that in 15 days things will improve,” said AFP Melissa Santos, a Dominican student who has not been out of her apartment in Wuhan for a week .  

But the situation still seems chaotic in hospitals in the city cut off from the world since January 23.  

Resident Chen Yiping reports that her 61-year-old mother is still waiting for hospital treatment despite severe symptoms, “because there are too many people in need of treatment.”  

Supply remains difficult.  

“The town hall asks people to stay at home as much as possible but there are not enough products in the stores, so we have to go shopping often,” said a resident by the name of Wei, whose husband is contaminated. 

Owing to transportation, price and labor issues, “supply is struggling to reach normal levels,” senior trade ministry official Wang Bin admitted to the press.  

The epidemic continues to spread around the world. More than 320 cases of contamination have been confirmed in around thirty countries and territories. Five new cases (four adults and one child, all of British nationality) were announced in France on Saturday, bringing the total to 11 in the country.

In China itself, the death on Friday of a young doctor who had been reprimanded for raising the alarm at the end of December continued to spark rare controversy, in a country where information is tightly controlled.Intellectuals have published at least two letters accounts that have circulated on social networks since the death of Doctor Li Wenliang in a hospital in Wuhan.  

The doctor, who died of coronavirus, is now a martyr in the face of local officials accused of having hidden the beginnings of the epidemic.  

“Stop restricting freedom of speech,” plead ten teachers from Wuhan, in a letter that has since been removed from the Weibo social network.  

Another letter from anonymous former students of the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing calls on the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stop making “political security the only priority”.  

The communist regime reacted by announcing Friday the sending of a commission of inquiry to Wuhan.  

Elsewhere, many countries are tightening their restrictive measures against people from China, and advise against traveling to this country, France being the latest on Saturday. Most international airlines have suspended flights to mainland China.

The first returnees from Wuhan, arrived on January 31 from China and placed in quarantine near Marseilles (south), will see their confinement period end on schedule on February 14, Civil Security announced to them to applause on Saturday.  

A second and “last” London-chartered plane to repatriate around 200 Britons and other foreign nationals landed in the UK on Sunday morning.  

Thirty-eight French nationals who were on board arrived in France soon after. They were also to be placed in confinement. In Hong Kong, the 1,800 tourists confined to an ocean liner for five days were allowed to disembark on Sunday, the 1,800 crew members having tested negative.  

Authorities feared that some crew members had contracted the virus from a previous trip and have become contagious.


Here is the list of countries and territories that have announced confirmed cases of disease due to the new coronavirus since its spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it appeared in December.

Outside China, including the autonomous regions of Macau and Hong Kong, more than 350 cases of contamination have been confirmed in around 30 countries and territories.


Nearly 37,200 people were infected in mainland China. And at least 811 of them died.

Almost all of the deaths occurred in Hubei province, the cradle of the contagion, of which Wuhan is the capital.

This figure is higher than the number of people who died of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, atypical pneumonia) – around 650 – in the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

One person also died in Hong Kong where at least 36 cases have been recorded.

Ten cases have been reported in Macau.


East Asia

  • South Korea: 27
  • Japan: 26 cases, and 70 on board the liner Diamond Princess in quarantine off Yokohama. Another case was confirmed aboard the liner Westerdam, en route to Japan.
  • Taiwan: 18

South East Asia

  • Cambodia: 1
  • Malaysia: 17
  • Philippines: 3 cases including a death in Manila, a Chinese native of Wuhan, who was the first death outside of China.
  • Singapore: 43
  • Thailand: 32
  • Vietnam: 13

South Asia

  • India: 3
  • Nepal: 1
  • Sri Lanka: 1
  • Australia 15


  • Canada: 7
  • United States: 12 cases. An American citizen also died of coronavirus in Wuhan.


  • Germany: 14
  • France: 11
  • Italy: 3
  • Belgium: 1
  • Spain: 2
  • Finland: 1
  • Sweden: 1
  • United Kingdom: 4
  • Russia: 2


  • United Arab Emirates: 7


Anxious not to stigmatize the city of Wuhan where it appeared nor the Chinese people, the World Health Organization is advancing with caution in the search for a name for the new virus. 

The provisional name of the specialized agency of the UN for that which it has defined as responsible for an international health emergency is “2019-nCoV”.                

This coded-like name combines the year of its identification with “nCoV” for “new coronavirus”, the family of viruses to which it belongs.                

“We thought it was very important to find a provisional name so that no place is associated with its name,” said Friday Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the emerging diseases unit of WHO in Geneva .  

“I’m sure you’ve all seen a lot of press reports referring to him when talking about Wuhan or China, and we wanted to make sure there was no stigma,” she said. added at a meeting of the organization’s executive committee.                

A final decision is a matter of days, and is up to WHO and the experts of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, responsible for their classification.                

Any precise name involves risks.


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