Race against time: China battles coronavirus as death toll crosses 1,000; 108 deaths in last 24 hours

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 11, 2020, 10.49 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

According to Hong Kong's leading public health epidemiologist, the coronavirus could infect 60% of the global population which is two-thirds of the world's population.

Containing the coronavirus outbreak is a race against time; a race that doesn't seem to end anytime soon. What exploded three weeks ago at a seafood market in China's Wuhan, has now become a collective battle for the world.

But is this a lost battle already? 

According to Hong Kong's leading public health epidemiologist, the coronavirus could infect 60% of the global population which is two-thirds of the world's population.

Professor Gabriel Leung who played a crucial role during the SARS outbreak has also sounded an alarm as he said that the cases so far, could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Leung also said questioned travel restrictions imposed by other countries as he said, when china's massive lockdowns haven't worked, what good will these mobility restrictions do in other countries.

Watch: How China is losing to the coronavirus

Instead of containing the virus, the world will have to work to mitigate its effects, Leung also said.

The death toll from coronavirus surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday which is way more than the 2003's SARS outbreak. The virus had infected 8,098 people and killed 774 in 2003.

In biggest leap in a day, 108 new deaths were reported in the last twenty-four hours. The number is expected to increase further with passing hours. Meanwhile, 42,638 have been infected.

This is just in mainland China. The magnitude, the scale and the pace of this outbreak are unprecedented. 

The crisis in Wuhan which is an epicentre of this deadly virus is showing itself in the unlikeliest of ways.

Also read: Chinese journalist reported missing; list of whistleblowers vanishing grows as fast as coronavirus

According to a report, sulphur dioxide emissions have reached alarming levels in this city due to the high number of cremations in the city. The sulphur dioxide levels stood at a staggering 1350 micrograms per cubic metre this weekend.

A concentration of 500 micrograms is considered normal.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Airbnb, a US-based home renting company, became the latest victim to the epidemic as it suspended all check-ins until March.

Earlier this month, tech-giant Apple had temporarily closed its official stores and corporate offices in mainland China.

Social media giant Facebook and Google have also closed their offices in mainland China. The story of smaller businesses is even worse. 

What about India?

In India, three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far.

All three have been reported in the state of Kerala.

Authorities have placed thermal scanners and hand-held thermal detectors at 21 airports. Most cities are tracking down returnees from China.

Also read: Coronavirus has unveiled China's ugliest face

In the national capital, 10 people have been isolated due to suspicion.

In addition to this, India is leading efforts to contain the outbreak in South Asia as it offered help to neighbouring countries including Pakistan to evacuate citizens from China. 

Clinical samples of the virus from abroad are being tested in India.

So far 600 Indian nationals have been evacuated from China. 

Meanwhile, an Indian doctor name Amish Vyas has voluntarily stayed in China.

Vyas was in the United States when the virus was first reported in December last year but as China is facing an acute shortage of medical professionals, he chose to stay and work in Hangzhou. 

Vyas also refused to board the Air India evacuation flight.  

Its effect on economy

India's economy is highly dependent on China. In 2019, India's trade with China stood at 87 billion dollars. Now with production across China hitting a roadblock, goods are not being dispatched on time.

Experts say, if this continues, it will hit India's supplies adding to the woes of India's automobile industry which is already facing a slowdown.

Cell-phone makers are also worried; while, pharmaceutical companies have given the Indian government a list of medicines that could go out of stock soon.