Sunday marked the deadliest day for the new coronavirus since the virus broke out in December, according to China’s National Health Commission.
In just three weeks, the death toll from the pneumonia-causing coronavirus has risen from three deaths to 910. On Sunday, China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 97 deaths, representing a 12 percent increase from the previous daily briefing and the most deaths in a single day.
Of those 97 people, the vast majority—91 people—were from the Hubei province, where Wuhan, the origin city for the virus, is located. Two were in the neighboring province of Anhui and one each was reported in Jiangxi province, Hainan province and Gansu province. China also confirmed a person died in Heilongjiang province, the farthest one from the epicenter of the outbreak.
In late December, Chinese health authorities reported 44 cases of a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus to the World Health Organization (WHO). It wasn’t until January 20, though, that WHO reported the first three deaths, all involving people in China.
To date, there has only been one death outside of China—a person in the Philippines—but on Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing confirmed a 60-year-old U.S. citizen with the virus died at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan.
Researchers are still studying the new coronavirus, as it’s the first time it’s been detected in humans, but the genome sequence indicates it’s similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome. The SARS outbreak began in China and between 2002 and 2003, a total of 8,098 people worldwide became ill with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those people, 774 died.
With at least 40,171 confirmed cases and 910 deaths, the new coronavirus, temporarily named 2019-nCoV, has surpassed SARS in cases and deaths. However, SARS’ mortality rate, about 10 percent, is still far higher than 2019-nCoV, which is currently about 2 percent.
To help combat the spread of the virus in America, President Donald Trump imposed travel restrictions on foreign nationals from entering the U.S. if they had been in China within 14 days of their arrival. On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S would provide $100 million in existing funds to combat the coronavirus in China.
“This commitment – along [with] hundreds of millions generously donated – demonstrates strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak. Together we can have a profound impact,” Pompeo said in a tweet announcing the investment.
For most people who contract the virus, symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath, have been mild. However, health officials believe it can be especially dangerous for those with respiratory conditions and China reported 6,484 people were in “serious condition.”
There is no vaccine or cure for the new coronavirus, so doctors are tasked with treating symptoms, not the virus. But, a treatment might not be far off and on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said officials had success with a potential vaccine and if there aren’t any “glitches,” human trials could begin in two and a half months.