Dhaka – More than 1,500 people have so far been died after the new coronavirus epidemic surged in the Chinese city of Wuhan with more people contacting the pathogen both is China and elsewhere, media reports said on Saturday.
The Chinese authorities reported deaths of 143 people on Friday raising the death toll to 1,523. The number of infected people has also risen to as many as 66,000.
The National Health Commission also reported 2,641 new cases of the COVID-19 strain, with the vast majority in hard-hit central Hubei province of China.
The outbreak emerged in the Hubei capital Wuhan in December and spread nationwide a month later.
Chinese authorities have placed some 56 million people in Hubei under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus.
A number of cities far from the epicentre have also imposed tough measures limiting the number of people who can leave their homes.
Schools remain closed nationwide and many companies have encouraged employees to work from home.
The scale of the epidemic swelled this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.
Cases “clinically diagnosed” through lung imaging are now being counted in addition to those that have shown up positive in laboratory tests.
The World Health Organization said that cases going back weeks were retroactively counted.
The number of new cases confirmed has been steadily falling outside Hubei, with 221 infections reported on Saturday.
A total of 1,716 medical workers have been infected during the outbreak, with six dying from the illness.
Most of the infections among health workers were in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, where many have lacked proper masks and gear to protect themselves in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.