CORONAVIRUS: Marked spike in reported cases and deaths
By: Iain Fraser – Editor at Large
GEO´ European News Centre Málaga
The coronavirus is continuing to wreak havoc around the globe with some 242 deaths recorded in the Chinese province of Hubei as of yesterday [Wednesday, 13/02/2020] the deadliest day so far since the outbreak was first reported. There has also been a huge increase in the number of cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed with the virus. Although, Hubei has started using a broader definition to diagnose people, which does account for the rise in cases.
Until yesterday’s increase the number of people diagnosed in Hubei [where the outbreak emerged] was stabilising, however, the new cases and deaths in the province have pushed the Chinese national death toll above 1,350 with 60,000+ infections in total.
Of the 242 new deaths in Wuhan, 135 are such “clinically diagnosed” cases. This means that even without the new definition, the number of deaths in Hubei reported yesterday was 107 a new high for the province.
Meanwhile, the cruise ship carrying that has been carrying more than 2,000 people has finally been allowed to dock in Cambodia, after being turned away by five ports over fears that some passengers might be infected with the virus.
The MS Westerdam arrived on Thursday morning after Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines
and Thailand had all refused to accept the ship, despite having no sick patients on board. Meanwhile, another 44 cases have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess, which is in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. The increase means 218 people of the 3,700 people on board the ship have caught the virus although not all the passengers have been tested yet.
The WHO said it was “way too early” to predict the end of the epidemic. “This outbreak could still
go in any direction,” the director-general warned. They have been able to track down the source of
transmission in all but eight of the 441 cases of the virus outside China although WHO Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan said yesterday that four possible vaccines were being funded for pre-clinical development.
Is the Coronavirus a Pandemic?
Strictly speaking no, a pandemic is an epidemic occurring on a scale which crosses international boundaries, usually affecting a large number of people, however, Pandemics can also occur in important agricultural organisms (livestock, crop plants, fish, tree species) or in other organisms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a six-stage classification that describes the process by which a novel influenza virus moves from the first few infections in humans through to a pandemic. This starts with the virus mostly infecting animals, with a few cases where animals infect people, then moves through the stage where the virus begins to spread directly between people, and ends with a pandemic when infections from the new virus have spread worldwide.
A disease or condition is not a pandemic merely because it is widespread or kills many people; it must also be infectious. For instance, cancer is responsible for many deaths but is not considered a pandemic because the disease is not infectious or contagious.