WHO experts join field inspections in China as death toll due to coronavirus climbs to 1,770
Beijing, Feb 17 : Top WHO experts, including from the US, have joined the fight against the novel coronavirus in China that has claimed 1,770 lives, as Beijing stepped up its efforts by deploying 30,000 more medical staff in the worst-affected Wuhan city to contain the spread of the epidemic.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Monday that 105 people died of the virus on Sunday while 2,048 new cases of infection have been confirmed, taking the total number of COVID-19 infected cases to 70,548, the state run Xinhua news agency reported.
Of the new deaths, 100 were reported from the central Hubei province, three in the central Henan province, and two in the southern Guangdong province.
The efforts to combat coronavirus picked up pace with the global experts mobilised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) joining hands with their Chinese counterparts.
China has confirmed that the WHO team reportedly comprising 12 members includes experts from the US, which has been a major demand from Washington.
"The foreign experts on board the China-WHO Joint Mission have arrived in Beijing. They have started relevant activities. We have experts from the US in the Mission," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told online media briefing here on Monday.
They will carry out field trips in Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan, he said.
The Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan, the epicentres of the virus, however, were a surprise omission from their places of visit.
The NHC said a joint expert team consisting of experts from China and the WHO began field inspections on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak on Monday.
The expert team will go to Beijing, Guangdong province and Sichuan province to conduct inspections, Mi Feng, spokesperson for the NHC told the media here.
A symposium was held by the NHC on Sunday, which was attended by nearly 80 people, including joint expert team members and representatives from the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, Mi said.
The attendees talked about Hubei, the virus-hit province, during a teleconference, and discussed the situation of the epidemic, control and prevention measures in communities and rural areas, wildlife management and drug and vaccine development, state run Xinhua reported.
The joint expert team acknowledged China's prevention and control measures, as well as the dedication of Chinese medical workers, Mi said.
Also on Monday, China dispatched more than 30,000 medical staff, including elite medical groups, to assist in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, Guo Yanhong, an official with the NHC said.
China has already deployed several hundred military medical workers in Hubei province.
China has sent about 11,000 intensive care specialists into the coronavirus-hit Wuhan, making up to approximately 10 per cent of the country's total number of intensive care medics, Guo told reporters here.
Guo said three top-level medical groups led by Chinese academicians, namely Zhong Nanshan, Li Lanjuan and Wang Chen, have also joined the fight at the frontline.
Chinese officials, who have been asserting that the cases of the virus showed a significant drop in the past few days, announced more stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The local government in Beijing has announced that all the foreigners including diplomats who are arriving back to the city to join work have to undergo 14-day quarantine at home or at designated places.