The official worldwide coronavirus death toll has surpassed 1,016 since the outbreak began in Wuhan late last year, as governments around the globe work to contain the fast-spreading disease.
The Chinese National Health Commission on Monday announced that they had received 42,638 reports of confirmed cases and 1,016 deaths in the mainland. In total, 3,996 patients have been cured and discharged from medical care, which leaves 37,626 confirmed cases and an additional 21,675 suspected cases. Of those, 7,333 who are confirmed to have contracted the virus are in serious condition.
China announced 108 deaths in the past day, with 103 in the Hubei province, the new virus’ epicenter, one in Beijing, one in Tianjin and one in the Heilongjiang province.
Officials also confirmed 42 confirmed infections in Hong Kong, 10 in Macao and 18 in Taiwan. One death has been confirmed in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. There are 12 cases confirmed in the U.S. as of publication, and one death of an American citizen, who passed away due to the virus in Wuhan over the weekend.
Since first appearing at a wholesale seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, located in the central Hubei province, in December, the new virus has spread through air and sea travel to citizens in America and over a dozen other foreign countries. Although the fatality rate (roughly 2.1 percent) is much lower than the SARS virus (roughly 9.6 percent), coronavirus has now killed more people than SARS, which had a total death toll of 774.
Chinese health officials are conflicted as to whether the virus spread is airborne, with one expert claiming that “in theory” it could be. During a Saturday press briefing, Zeng Qun, the deputy head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, said coronavirus spreads through direct transmission, which involves physical contact.
However, China Daily, an English-language newspaper owned by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China, reported that Zeng said the virus is also capable of aerosol transmission. “Aerosol transmission refers to the mixing of the virus with droplets in the air to form aerosols, which causes infection after inhalation, according to medical experts,” Zeng was quoted as saying.
Feng Luzhao, a researcher from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, challenged the view on Sunday, telling a press conference there is no evidence to suggest coronavirus can form aerosols. Feng maintains that the most feasible route of transmission is still direct, which includes an uninfected person breathing in the air of an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
The World Health Organization’s director-general in January declared coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, following a recommendation from the body’s emergency committee. In recent weeks, the Trump administration said it has evacuated over 800 Americans from Wuhan to protect them and contain the virus.
Other countries have similarly taken precautions to safeguard their citizens, with the U.S., Philippines, Japan and Australia among those who have passed temporary travel restrictions to contain the outbreak.