Coronavirus death toll in China surpasses 1,800

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China reached at least 1,868 with 93 more deaths in Hubei and five more in other parts of the country.

The news comes as state television reported that Liu Zhiming, director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died Tuesday morning, becoming one of the latest fatalities of the epidemic.

The government also reported an additional 1,886 new infections across the country, but mostly from Hubei, bringing the nationwide total to at least 72,436.

The number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 for the first time since January.

The number of new daily infections in mainland China had not been below 2,000 since Janurary 30, while the daily death toll had not come under 100 since February 11. Chinese authorities say the stabilisation in the number of new cases is a sign that tough measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect.

“We can hope that the reports of falling numbers of new cases in China does show that the epidemic has peaked in Hubei province, but it is still too early to be sure that this is so,” said Jimmy Whitworth, professor of International Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Police in China arrested a prominent activist who had been a fugitive for weeks and criticised President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic while in hiding, a rights group said.

Anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong was arrested on Saturday after being on the run since December, according to Amnesty International.

The death this month of a whistleblowing doctor who was reprimanded by police for raising the alarm about the deadly new virus before dying of it himself triggered rare calls for political reform and freedom of speech.

The “Chinese government’s battle against the coronavirus has in no way diverted it from its ongoing general campaign to crush all dissenting voices”, said Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, in an emailed statement.

Japan is aiming to start trials soon using an HIV treatment for the coronavirus, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“We’re currently preparing to start clinical trials using HIV medication on the novel coronavirus,” Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a daily press briefing.

He added he could not comment on how long it would take for the new drug to be approved.

Japan now has seen over 500 coronavirus cases, with more than 450 of them from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama.

<<Aljazeera>>