Hubei province reveals official fatality rates for the first time

Workers carrying out disinfection in the downtown area of Wuhan city's Jianghan district yesterday. Wuhan, the provincial capital city where the coronavirus first emerged, has a fatality rate of 4.06 per cent. It was topped by Tianmen, a nearby city,
Workers carrying out disinfection in the downtown area of Wuhan city's Jianghan district yesterday. Wuhan, the provincial capital city where the coronavirus first emerged, has a fatality rate of 4.06 per cent. It was topped by Tianmen, a nearby city, which has a death rate of 5.08 per cent.PHOTO: REUTERS

WUHAN • The government of Hubei province, where most of China's deaths from the coronavirus are found, has given the official fatality rates for the virus for the first time, Chinese media reported.

Unexpectedly, Wuhan, the provincial capital city where the virus first emerged, came in second with a fatality rate of 4.06 per cent, Caixin Global reported on Sunday. It was topped by Tianmen, a nearby city, which had a death rate of 5.08 per cent.

With 871 deaths reported as of Sunday, the fatality rate of Hubei province was 2.88 per cent, the report said. The province had 29,631 confirmed cases as at Sunday, 5,505 of which were in severe or critical condition. Across mainland China, there were 908 deaths as of Sunday. There were 3,062 new infections, bringing the total number so far to 40,171.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday that 27 foreigners in China had been infected, and two had died, Reuters reported. An American died on Feb 6, and a Japanese on Feb 8. Three of the cases had been discharged, he added.

Mr Jiao Yahui, deputy director of the medical administration bureau of the National Health Commission, had explained earlier that the high mortality rate in Hubei province could be attributed mainly to the fact that most of the critically ill patients were warded in three main hospitals which were under strain from a lack of beds as well as professional medical staff.

A Bloomberg report yesterday said the virus could infect at least 500,000 people in Wuhan - a city of 11 million - by the time it peaks in coming weeks.

Recent trends in reported cases broadly support the preliminary mathematical modelling that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is using to predict the transmission dynamics.

"Assuming current trends continue, we are still projecting a mid-to-late-February peak" of virus cases in Wuhan, associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology Adam Kucharski told Bloomberg.

"There is a lot of uncertainty, so I am cautious about picking out a single value for the peak, but it is possible based on current data we might see a peak prevalence over 5 per cent."

 

That would potentially mean at least one in 20 people would have been infected in the city by the time the epidemic peaks.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2020, with the headline 'Hubei province reveals official fatality rates for the first time'. Print Edition | Subscribe