The coronavirus death toll in China’s Hubei province – the epicentre of the infectious disease’s outbreak – has reached 479, following 65 fatalities reported overnight by the province’s health commission.
The increase marked yet another daily record for deaths in the region as front-line medical workers work around the clock to treat patients and fight to contain the spread of the virus.
Cases of the novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, rose by 3,156 – also a daily record – to 16,678, according to the figures, which are current as of midnight on Tuesday. Almost 2,000 of those new cases were confirmed in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated at a seafood and meat market.
The new data comes amid growing concerns voiced by health experts that the true number of cases could be significantly higher, since official statistics generally only reflect acute cases where patients have been admitted to hospital.
The ability of health authorities in Wuhan to quantify the scale of the outbreak has been further hampered by the short supply of testing kits, a member of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) expert panel said earlier this week.
Over 2,500 of the patients undergoing treatment in Hubei were in either serious or critical condition, according to the latest figures, which were released early Wednesday morning.
The latest data came following predictions by a top health official that a slew of recent health care measures would cause the fatality rate in Hubei – particularly Wuhan – to fall.
Those measures, said Jiao Yahui, deputy director of the NHC’s Medical Administration Bureau, included increased beds for patients in critical condition and the deployment of specialist medical teams experienced in severe respiratory diseases.
The overnight figures indicated a small drop in Hubei’s fatality rate, falling to around 2.9 per cent from 3.1 per cent the day before. The mortality rate in the province remains significantly higher than the national rate, which currently stands at just over 2 per cent.
By Owen Churchill @ SMCP