Thursday, February 20, 2020
News on Pathogens and Preparedness

Coronavirus Epidemic Reaches Bleak Milestone, Exceeding SARS Toll

The coronavirus epidemic in China has now claimed more lives than the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003.

The number of new deaths reported over the previous 24 hours — 97 — was the highest in China in a single day so far, according to figures announced Sunday by the country’s health commission. The number of infections over all in China now far exceeds that of SARS, rising above 40,100, compared with 8,000 then.1

The SARS crisis, which began in southern China in similar circumstances, ultimately killed 774 people worldwide over the course of several months.

However, the number of new infections reported per day in China has fallen significantly, leading health officials to declare their containment measures were starting to work.

The end of the new year break, which was extended by 10 days to try to prevent the virus from spreading, is likely to be a crucial moment.

“[If] there’s a bump when people go back to work at the beginning of this week, then we’ll know we’re in trouble and then we have to back off again,” said Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Centre for Infection and Immunity, at a press conference on Sunday.2

1 Coronavirus Epidemic Reaches Bleak Milestone, Exceeding SARS Toll NY Times

2 China Braces for Return to Work as Coronavirus Deaths Exceed SARS The Guardian

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