Published on : Friday, February 14, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak in China is taking a peak with 5,000 new cases registered, while the cruise passengers on a ship blocked from five countries due to virus fears finally disembarked in Cambodia. In its latest update, China’s National Health Commission said it had recorded 121 new deaths and 5,090 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on Feb. 13, taking the accumulated total infected to 63,851 people. Some 55,748 people are currently undergoing treatment, while 1,380 people have died of the flu-like virus that emerged in Hubei province’s capital, Wuhan, in December.
The epidemic has given China’s ruling Communist Party one of its sternest challenges in years, constrained the world’s second-largest economy and triggered a purge of provincial bureaucrats.
A cruise liner quarantined off a Japanese port has more than 2000 people confirmed with the disease. The authorities have said they will allow some elderly people to disembark on Friday. The passengers on another cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears started disembarking in Cambodia on Friday.
The MS Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, docked in the Cambodian port town of Sihanoukville on Thursday. It had anchored offshore early in the morning to allow Cambodian officials to board and collect samples from passengers with any signs of ill health or flu-like symptoms. The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted the passengers with handshakes and bouquets of roses as they stepped off the ship and boarded a waiting bus.
Australian health officials tested a passenger onboard another cruise ship that docked in Sydney harbour for a “respiratory illness” on Friday, causing passengers to fret about the potential of another shipboard outbreak of the coronavirus.
The health ministry did not specify the nature of the respiratory illness, or specifically rule out the coronavirus. Separately, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd said it had cancelled 18 cruises in Southeast Asia and joined larger rival Carnival Corp in warning that its full-year earnings would be hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Global health authorities are still scrambling to find “patient zero” – a person who carried the disease into a company meeting in Singapore from which it spread to five other countries.
The rise in China’s reported cases on Thursday reflected a decision by authorities there to reclassify a backlog of suspected cases by using patients’ chest images, and did not necessarily indicate a wider epidemic, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday. The economists are assessing the impact of the outbreak on the world’s second-largest economy and scaling back their expectations for growth this year.