News:

China announced that 1,716 medical workers contracted the coronavirus, 6 of them have died

China reports over 5,000 new coronavirus cases

China calls on virus survivors to donate blood plasma in the hopes of creating a treatment.



Health authorities in China said 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the latest reports

In China epidemic hit centres, 1,716 medical workers have contracted the coronavirus and 6 of them have died, the government said on Friday.

It was the first time officials have disclosed the number. The announcement was the first official confirmation about the number of infected medical workers, and is likely to ratchet up fears about the spread of the virus.

Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said the numbers of infected workers represent 3.8 percent of China’s overall confirmed infections. The victims represent 0.4 percent of all deaths nationwide.

Mr. Zeng said that Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, recorded 1,502 cases of infected medical workers, with 1,102 of them in Wuhan, the provincial capital. He added that further research was needed to ascertain whether the infections spread throughout the hospital or within the community.

“I think it’s quite concerning,” said Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong. “Healthcare workers face the challenge of caring for a substantial number of patients in Wuhan. It’s worrying to discover that a number of them have been infected.”

Medical workers in Hubei, already working round the clock, face a shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and safety goggles. They have resorted to begging from friends, putting out frequent calls for donations, and using tape to patch up torn masks and gowns. Many doctors and nurses there say they eat only one meal a day because going to the restroom means removing and discarding safety gowns that they would not be able to replace.

During the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, 961 medical workers were infected, representing 18 percent of all infections, according to government data. About 1 percent of the medical workers infected with SARS died, the medical expert Xu Dezhong told Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases expert at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney said the new figures give no indication the outbreak is nearing a peak .

“Based on the current trend in confirmed cases, this appears to be a clear indication that while the Chinese authorities are doing their best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the fairly drastic measures they have implemented to date would appear to have been too little, too late,” he said.

The epidemic has given China’s ruling Communist Party one of its sternest challenges in years, constrained the world’s second-largest economy and triggered a purge of provincial bureaucrats.

Numbers continued to climb after the government changed the criteria by which it tracks confirmed cases. The authorities said a total of 63,851 people have been infected by the coronavirus and at least 1,380 people have been killed by the disease.

Most of the cases occurred in Hubei, the center of the outbreak, which recorded 4,823 new cases and 116 deaths over the same period.

The tally in Hubei jumped most dramatically on Thursday after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases. The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.

Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death on Thursday – a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo. The death was the third outside mainland China, after two others in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Japan is one of the worst affected of more than two dozen countries and territories outside mainland China that have seen hundreds of infections.

Japanese policymakers vowed to step up testing and containment efforts after the death and confirmation of new cases, including a doctor and a taxi driver.

The world’s third-largest economy is already bracing for a sharp slowdown in growth and some analysts expect another contraction in the current quarter as the virus outbreak hurts exports, output, and consumption through a sharp drop in overseas tourists.

“Investors will surely avoid Asia for the time being and will shift funds to the U.S., geographically the most separated from the region,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

China calls on virus survivors to donate blood plasma in the hopes of creating a treatment.

A senior health official in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, has called on residents who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood plasma, believing their naturally produced antibodies could be used to treat patients who are still sick.

Dr. Zhang Dingyu, the director of the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, made his appeal on Thursday after Chinese researchers said they believed such antibody treatments could help people recover from the virus.

The search for a drug capable of treating or curing the virus has frustrated researchers, as rates of infection and deaths continue to mount.

The government is currently prescribing a combination of anti-viral drugs and traditional Chinese medicine. But on Thursday, China National Biotec Group, a state-owned company under the Ministry of Health, said it found that administering a round of human antibodies from the survivors to more than 10 critically ill patients caused inflammation levels to drop significantly after 12 to 24 hours of treatment.

The company called the use of plasma “the most effective method, which can significantly reduce the mortality of critically ill patients.”

Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, said the use of antibodies to treat the coronavirus is “a really good idea,” noting that it’s been used before in influenza pandemics. But he cautioned that it needed to be proven in a controlled trial.

“It’s basically transferring immunity from a patient who has recovered to a patient still fighting the infection, and then helping them to recover,” he said.

(With NYT)

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