Coronavirus cases are not increasing significantly outside China despite a quick rise in the number of deaths and infections in Hubei province, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
Hubei Province, the center of the deadly virus, reported 242 new deaths on Wednesday, which was more than double the figures of the previous highest death toll in a day.
This increase is largely down to a change in how cases are being diagnosed and reported, and does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak, according to Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Program.
By the end of Thursday, a total of 1,380 people have died of the disease and 63,851 confirmed cases of infection were reported in China, the National Health Commission said on Friday.
“The number of countries reporting cases has still not changed, except the cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, we’re not seeing a dramatic increase in transmission outside China,” he said at a media briefing on Thursday, referring to the vessel in quarantine in the Japanese port city of Yokohama.
218 passengers in the ship have tested positive for the virus, representing the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside China.
Passengers who have been confirmed with virus infection are being hospitalized, while those on board are confined to their cabins.
The top WHO official said that outside China, there are 447 confirmed cases of coronavirus in 24 countries, and two deaths. In addition to the death in the Philippines, one death has been reported in Japan.
Ryan said he briefed health ministers from the European Union about COVID-19. WHO teams are working with governments and partners of the European Union to ensure that the latest information is disseminated, that preparations are made and there’s good coordination between the EU and WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday confirmed its 15th case of coronavirus disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient is among a group of people under quarantine at JBSA-Lackland in Texas ,who recently returned from Hubei.
While 195 people were discharged from quarantine, more than 600 people who returned on chartered flights from Wuhan remain isolated and are being closely monitored to contain the spread of the virus.
Australia extended restriction on people coming from China until February.
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