Fiorella Beccaglia Managing Editor
More than 2,000 people have died from coronavirus across the globe, according to the latest figures released Tuesday, Feb. 18. The virus has infected more than 75,000 people around the world, mostly in mainland China. The death toll stands exactly at 2,009, including five people outside mainland China with one death in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France.
The virus only proves fatal, according to current data, in about 2% of people infected, with the risks increasing significantly for patients of older age. But infectious disease experts have spoken up to say that figure might actually be lower—the disease could be less deadly—because there could be thousands of undetected infections around the world, many of them mild or even asymptomatic.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported that 136 more people died of coronavirus in mainland China, 132 of which occurred in the Hubei province where the virus is most prevalent. The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases now stands at 75,117. One of these deaths has been Liu Zhiming, head of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, who died from the virus Tuesday morning. China will designate medical workers who died while working to combat the virus as “martyrs.”
According to analysis done by CNN, travel restrictions, of varying degrees, are still being enforced in various provinces and cities across mainland China including Hubei, Liaoning, Beijing and Shanghai affecting over 780 million people. These restrictions, which appear to be China’s main effort to control the disease, include everything from self-quarantines to limits on who can come and go from neighborhoods.
Despite the continuation of its spread, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that the virus is not as deadly as SARS or MERS, both of which are related to the current coronavirus, and more than 80% of patients “have mild disease and will recover.” Reports say it could take up to 18 months before a coronavirus vaccine is available.
In regard to the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan, several countries are sending flights for their citizens aboard. The US has evacuated more than 300 Americans from the ship and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement criticizing the quarantine efforts taken on the cruise ship. The CDC noted that there are still more than 100 US citizens on board the ship or in hospitals in Japan. Due to their high-risk exposure, there is the potential for additional novel coronavirus cases to occur and the remaining passengers who disembark from the ship will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.