Coronavirus: China reports 47 more deaths, 427 new cases

A photo taken on Feb 22, 2020 shows medical staff checking notes in an intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Wuhan.
A photo taken on Feb 22, 2020 shows medical staff checking notes in an intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Wuhan.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP) - Mainland China had 427 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday, the country's National Health Commission said on Saturday (Feb 29), up from 327 cases a day earlier.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 79,251.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 2,835 as of the end of Friday, up by 47 from the previous day.

The central province of Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 45 new deaths, while in the provincial capital of Wuhan, 37 people died.

While the number of new cases rose from 327 on Friday, they remain in the hundreds, far below the huge daily increases that China was recording more than 10 days ago.  

The World Health Organisation said earlier this week that there were now more daily cases abroad than in China.  

China has placed 56 million people in Hubei under strict quarantine for more than a month and limited crowds across the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.  

Officials say the country has made progress against the virus but measures remain in place, including the closure of schools. Businesses have slowly started to reopen.

In the first official snapshot of the economic impact of such restrictions, the national statistics bureau reported on Saturday a record pace of contraction in manufacturing activity in February.  

China’s economy will take a big hit in the first quarter due to work stoppages, but should recover rapidly unless the outbreak worsens again, a Chinese official told Reuters on Friday. 

The International Monetary Fund has said the outbreak will likely lower China’s economic growth by 0.4 percentage point this year to 5.6 per cent and shave 0.1 percentage point from global growth. 

Seventeen provinces, regions and municipalities have lowered their emergency response level so far, including big coastal provinces such as Guangdong and Jiangsu. 

Beijing and Shanghai have yet to downgrade their emergency measures from the highest level. 

In contrast, the coronavirus continued to expand its footprint around the world, with at least six countries on four continents reporting new cases for the first time on Friday. 

South Korea, one of the worst-hit places outside of China, reported 594 new cases, raising the country’s total infections to 2,931. 

The risk of a global spread and impact of the coronavirus is now “very high”, the highest level of alarm, the World Health Organisation said.