The Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak reported that the death toll jumps to more than 1300 as experts warned the epidemic could “create havoc” in less prepared countries.
Health authorities in Hubei announced an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 cases of the virus, known officially as Covid-19, as of Thursday morning, the largest single-day rise since the epidemic began and almost ten times the number of cases confirmed the previous day.
According to reports, almost 34,000 patients have been hospitalized across Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is capital, including 1,400 or so in a critical condition. So far, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.
Globally, the virus has infected more than 60,000 people, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China. Only two deaths have occurred outside of China.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) officials described China’s decision to broaden its definition of what constitutes a confirmed case as a necessary measure.
In the UK too, a new case was confirmed on Wednesday in the capital London, with health officials warning that more were likely to follow.
WHO officials had previously expressed some optimism at the apparently stabilizing outbreak in China, but even then they cautioned that the virus could still spread elsewhere.
“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Tedros further stated, “We have to invest in preparedness,” adding that richer countries should help invest in countries with a weaker health system. He warned the virus could “create havoc” if it reaches a country whose health system is not capable of handling such an epidemic.