Drop in new cases raises hope, global fears remain
China yesterday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in nearly two weeks, lending weight to a forecast by its foremost medical adviser for the outbreak to end by April.
The 2,015 new cases took China’s total to 44,653. That was the lowest daily rise since January 30 and came a day after Zhong Nanshan forecast the epidemic would peak this month before subsiding.
His comments gave some balm to public fears and to markets, where global stocks surged to record highs on hopes of an end to disruption in the world’s second largest economy.
The proportion of patients who recovered from the virus in China had increased to 10.6 percent on Tuesday from the lowest 1.3 percent on January 27, Mi Feng, an official with the National Health Commission, said yesterday.
The number of cured patients had seen relatively rapid growth, Mi said at a Beijing press conference.
Outside Hubei Province, the epicenter, China’s new confirmed cases have been falling for eight straight days, the NHC said.
The number of new suspected cases had also fallen from a high of 5,328 on February 5 to 3,342 on Tuesday, Mi said.
But an expert with the World Health Organization said that while it may be peaking in China, this was not the case beyond.
“It has spread to other places where it’s the beginning of the outbreak,” Dale Fisher, head of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the WHO, said.
“In Singapore, we are at the beginning of the outbreak.”
Singapore has 47 cases. Its biggest bank, DBS, evacuated 300 staff yesterday after a case at its head office.
Hundreds of infections have been reported in dozens of other countries, but only two people have died outside China’s mainland: one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
Xinhua news agency called the epidemic a “battle that has no gunpowder smoke.”
A Xinhua commentary chided some Western media for “racist reporting” on the coronarivus.
“These sensational and unfounded allegations from a few Western media outlets have turned a blind eye to the unswerving efforts and huge sacrifice China and its people have made,” it said. “Just as the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the US in 2009 should not be called an ‘American virus,’ the NCP (novel coronavirus pneumonia) is neither a ‘China virus’ nor ‘Wuhan virus.’”