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New coronavirus cases in China lowest since January

February 18, 2020

Chinese health officials are optimistic as the number of new cases of COVID-19 has tentatively stabilized. Health experts think the disease could be less deadly, with many people only showing mild symptoms.

A person in a hazard suit puts a mask on a man suspected of having the coronavirus
Image: Getty Images/AFP

Chinese health officials reported 1,886 new cases of coronavirus in an update Tuesday, which is the lowest single-day figure of new cases in mainland China this month.

A report published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said that 80% of those infected had mild symptoms, with the risk of death increasing with age and for those with pre-existing health conditions.

The fatality rate for the COVID-19  is around 2%, which is lower than that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). But the new coronavirus — which includes flu-like symptoms — could prove more deadly if it spreads to more people than the other diseases. Seasonal flu has a fatality rate of 0.1% but kills hundreds of thousands because it infects millions each year.

Hong Kong gripped by fear

Death toll surpasses 1,800

The update by China's National Health Commission added 98 fatalities to the death toll on Tuesday, with 1,868 fatalities in total since the outbreak began in late December. Among the dead was the head of a leading hospital in the virus-hit city of Wuhan. Chinese state television reported that Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died early Tuesday. 

Chinese authorities said the stabilizing numbers are a sign that the measures they have taken to stop the outbreak are beginning to take effect.

On Tuesday, the state-run China Daily reported that Chinese health authorities are working on developing vaccines and new treatments for COVID-19, including a diagnostic method using blood serum that produces quick results and minimizes exposure for physicians.

Japanese health officials said Tuesday that they would start clinical trials "as soon as possible" to test using HIV medication to treat patients infected with coronavirus. 

'Too early to tell'

However, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that any trends showing stabilization of the virus "must be interpreted very cautiously."

"Trends can change as new populations are affected. It is too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table."

As of Tuesday, a total of more than 72,400 cases have been reported in mainland China, the vast majority in Hubei province at the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been about 900 coronavirus cases reported in 28 countries outside of China, with just over 450 of those on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan's Yokohama harbor. 

Coronavirus takes a bite out of Apple's profits

China's tough movement restrictions to keep the virus from spreading have had an effect on the country's economy and global supply chains.

Read moreCoronavirus keeps VW's China factories shut

US tech giant Apple said Monday afternoon it would not meet its revenue projections for the current quarter due to slower production of the iPhone and weaker consumer demand in China.

The California-based company manufactures most of its products in China. It's manufacturing facilities in China have reopened, but are catching up on production slower than expected, the company said in a statement to investors.

"Worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained," the company said."These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide."

kmm,wmr/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP) 

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