Beijing: China on Saturday announced plans to build a second hospital within half a month to treat more cases of the deadly coronavirus as the fast spreading virus continues to wreak havoc in the country and abroad with 41 people dead and more than 1,300 infected, dampening the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The confirmed cases for the first time crossed the 1,000 mark and rose sharply to 1,287 as of Friday with 237 people in critical condition battling for their lives in China, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
Almost all provinces, including Beijing, are reporting steady rise in the number of cases mostly of people who travelled from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
The pneumonia situation had resulted in 41 deaths, including 39 in central China’s Hubei province and one in north-eastern province Heilongjiang, the health commission said on Saturday.
Additionally, a total of 1,965 suspected cases have also been reported, it said.
China on Saturday said it will build another 1,300 bed makeshift hospital in Wuhan in the next 15 days in addition to the 1,000 bed hospital being built in the city in 10 days, state-run People’s Daily reported.
The feverish pace at which the hospitals are being built indicate that China apparently is preparing to treat far more patients considering the speed at which the virus is spreading.
The virus has spread to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Nepal, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States as of Thursday.
Japan on Friday reported a second confirmed case.
A chinese doctor reportedly died of the novel coronavirus on Saturday morning, the first fatality among health workers since the pneumonia-like illness first surfaced in late December, state-run China Daily quoted online news website Paper.cn as saying.
Liang Wudong, a 62-year-old doctor with the otolaryngology department who treats conditions in the ear, nose and throat at Hubei Xinhua Hospital, was suspected of contracting the new virus on January 16. The hospital that he works is in Wuhan.
On January 18, he was transferred to Hubei Jinyintan Hospital, which has received the majority of infected patients, and died at about 7 am on Saturday, the report said.
Previously, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on Tuesday that 15 medical workers were confirmed as contracting the virus, with one suspected case. One of them is critically ill, the China Daily report said.
Wuhan, the city of 11 million people, is where the virus is believed to have first emerged. The victims’ average age is 73, with 89 being the oldest and 48 youngest.
Also China’s National Health Commission has dispatched 1,230 medical staff to Wuhan to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak in the region.
Local media earlier reported that 450 military medical personnel have also landed in the city to offer support.
Also, the local government in Wuhan on Saturday has banned all vehicles, including private vehicles in downtown Wuhan to curb virus, a report by the Daily said.
The city along with 12 cities in Hubei province have already banned all public transport to prevent the virus from spreading.
At present, there is no cure for the virus which has pneumonia-like symptoms and is contagious among humans.
The virus has triggered a cause of concern for India too as many of the 700 odd Indian students studying in universities of Wuhan and Hubei provinces are still stuck up there.
The Indian Embassy has established hotlines to keep close contact with them.
The fast spreading virus dampened the celebrations of China’s Lunar New Year which began on Saturday.
On Friday Chinese bid goodbye to “the year of the pig” to welcome “the year of rat”.
In Chinese lunar calendar, years are grouped into a 12-year cycles, with each year assigned an animal symbol: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
In view of the virus scare, several cities, including Beijing, have cancelled special events. The festival is also known as the Spring Festival.
Large cultural activities during the spring festival in Beijing such as temple fairs were cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus.
China’s biggest city Shanghai raised the emergency response to public health safety to level 1, the highest, following Beijing, and Hubei, Hunan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Guangdong provinces as more cases were reported.
Beijing so far has reported 34 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection, official media reported.
Amid the unknown virus wreaking havoc, Chinese and American researchers are working together to develop a vaccine against the deadly new strain of the coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday stopped short of declaring the virus a global public health emergency, despite China’s climbing death toll.