China’s COVID-19 virus cases fall again, deaths now exceed 1,100

SAN DIEGO (AP) - China has reported another drop in the number of new cases of a viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100 even as the country remains largely closed down to prevent the spread of the disease.

The National Health Commission said 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day.

The total number of cases is around 45,000 globally.

The 97 additional deaths from the virus raised the mainland toll to 1,113.

Despite the official end to the extended Lunar New Year holiday, China remained mostly closed for business as many remained at home.

Officials in California say a labeling error caused a person infected with the novel coronavirus to be mistakenly released from a hospital but the oversight was noticed as she was returning to a San Diego military base.

Officials said Tuesday the mix-up came to authorities’ attention while she was being driven back to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where more than 200 evacuees from China are living under federal quarantine.

Officials say she was isolated at the base for testing and sent back to a hospital after results came back. The agency says it will now assign a laboratory specialist to prevent incorrect labeling.

Overall, there have been 13 confirmed cases in the U.S., including seven in California.

CDC: No widespread coronavirus transmission in US

Miramar received two flights and more than 170 evacuees last week. Seven that had shown possible symptoms of the highly contagious virus were hospitalized for observation but several tested negative and have been released.

Hundreds of American evacuees from China have been quarantined at military bases around the country until it’s determined that they don’t have the virus.

Meanwhile, China’s daily death toll from the virus topped 100 for the first time and pushed the total past 1,000 dead. Newly confirmed cases fell slightly to 2,478, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland, some of whom have since been cured and released from hospital.

The updated figures come after leader Xi Jinping visited a community health center to rally public morale amid little sign the contagion is abating. Xi was featured in state media expressing confidence in the “war against the disease.”

Authorities in Hong Kong evacuated an apartment block after two cases among its residents raised suspicion the virus may be spreading through plumbing.

Despite the official end of the extended Lunar New Year holiday, many people remain at home, with around 60 million people under virtual quarantine. Public health authorities are watching closely to see whether workers returning to cities and business resuming worsens the spread of the virus.

Japan’s health ministry says 39 new cases of a virus have been confirmed on the cruise ship that is quarantined at a Japanese port.

The update brings the total found on the Diamond Princess to 174 cases. Another new case was confirmed in a official who participated in the initial quarantine checks the night the ship returned to Yokohama Port near Tokyo on Feb. 3.

Japanese health officials began medical checks on all of the ship’s 3,700 passengers and crew after one previous passenger tested positive for the new virus. The new cases bring Japan’s total to 203 people infected with the the new virus.

The World Health Organization announced an official name for the new disease, COVID-19 at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The director-general of the U.N. health agency said it was necessary to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, animal, individual or group of people but that was pronounceable and related to the disease.

The World Health Organization has convened a group of experts to fast-track promising tests, drugs and vaccines to help slow the outbreak of the virus, which was identified late last year in China.

WHO said there were still many unanswered but critical questions about the virus. Those include what animals it came from, how it’s spread among people and how best to treat patients.

Experts say it could be months or even years before any approved treatments or vaccines are developed.

In Britain, officials declared the new coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat to public health” after five British tourists contracted it at a ski resort in the French Alps. The case has illustrated how the ease of international travel is complicating global efforts to track and contain the new virus.

A middle-aged businessman from England is believed to have picked up the virus during a conference at a Singapore hotel. From the hotel, to the ski resort and a pub in his hometown, as well as the flights he took back to Britain, the man may have come in contact with dozens of other people.

Chinese authorities are struggling to strike a delicate balance between containing a viral outbreak and restarting the world’s second-biggest economy after weeks of paralysis.

As the death toll from the newly named COVID-19 illness topped 1,000, global supply chains remained widely disrupted for the businesses across the world that have built deep connections to China.

Mail service has been delayed after airlines suspended flights between China and the rest of the world. U.S. chip maker Intel and Chinese smartphone maker Vivo joined other tech giants in withdrawing from a major European technology fair over virus concerns.

Prices for oil, copper and other basic building-block commodities have tumbled.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.