The number of deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus had risen to over 1,000 by Tuesday morning, as experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in China to assist with controlling the epidemic.
Chinese health authorities said 108 people died from the virus in mainland China on Monday, with the majority of those deaths occurring in Hubei province, the capital of which is Wuhan – the city where the virus was first found. The total number of deaths stands at 1,018, all but two of those in mainland China.
Globally, 43,114 have now been diagnosed with the virus, again with the majority in China. Around 4,000 patients have been treated and released from hospital in China since late December.
A team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts landed in China on Monday. The organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said they will “lay the groundwork for a larger international team,” which will join them “as soon as possible.”
The WHO group in China is led by Bruce Aylward, who helmed the body’s response to Ebola, as well as initiatives for immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication.
Their arrival comes as the WHO is facing increasing criticism for its initial decision not to declare a global health emergency, and for officials’ effusive praise of China’s handling of the crisis, even as Beijing faces outrage domestically for, among other things, the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, and the subsequent censorship of that news.
Cruise ships in crisis
Outside of China, the single largest outbreak is on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently docked in Yokohama, a port city south of Tokyo.
At least 135 people have tested positive for the virus so far, as Japanese health authorities continue to examine hundreds of passengers and crew, who have been under quarantine for almost a week. The recommended quarantine time is 14 days.
Passengers have been vocal about their displeasure with ship operator Princess Cruises and the Japanese government’s handling of the outbreak. On Monday, several crew members appealed for help from the Indian government, alleging they were at risk of infection by not being segregated.
“We are extremely scared at this point in time,” Binay Kumar Sarkar said in a video obtained by CNN. “Our request is to segregate the crew members from the infected.”
He said that none of his colleagues had been checked for the coronavirus.
“Only people who are recording temperatures higher than 37.5 degree Celsius are being checked,” he said. “Please help save those who have not been infected yet. There are 160 Indian crew members and 8 Indian passengers on board. Please rescue us. Help evacuate us before we contract the virus. 90% of us are healthy as of now. I appeal to India’s Prime Minister Modi, please bring us home safe and sound.”
Princess Cruises did not respond to a request for comment about the video.
Three other cruise ships have faced delays and quarantines in the past week over virus fears, in Hong Kong, Thailand and the US, though none have confirmed an outbreak.
Housing estate fears
While most countries and territories are reporting low numbers of cases, there were renewed fears of a separate outbreak in Hong Kong Monday.
Memories of the 2003 SARS crisis run deep in Hong Kong, which has been on high alert for weeks now, with many people working from home and runs on face masks and hand sanitizer amid concerns about shortages. The city’s leader Carrie Lam closed most of the border crossings with mainland China last week, following intense pressur