Hong Kong, March 14 (IANS) China on Saturday reported 11 new coronavirus cases and 13 deaths, taking its total number of infections to 80,824 and deaths to 3,189, while South Korea reported more recoveries than new infections for a second day in a row, raising hopes that Asia’s biggest epidemic outside China may be slowing.
Of the new infections in China, four were from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and seven were brought into the country, while 10 of the 13 deaths were in Wuhan, reports the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper.
In a statement on Saturday, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said that it recorded 107 new coronavirus cases compared with 110 a day earlier, taking the national tally to 8,086.
In contrast, 204 patients were discharged from hospitals where they had been isolated for treatment.
For a second day in a row, the daily number of recovered people exceeded that of new confirmed cases since South Korea’s first patient was confirmed on January 20.
With the latest figures, South Korea has continued to see a steady drop in the number of new cases, raising hopes that the outbreak may be slowing in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the SCMP report said.
Of the latest 107 cases, 62 were from the hard-hit southeastern city of Daegu where a fringe Christian church at the centre of the epidemic is located, while 15 and 13 were in Gyeonggi and Seoul, respectively.
Also on Saturday, New Zealand cancelled a national memorial to commemorate the 51 people who were killed when a gunman attacked two mosques on March 15, 2019 in Christchurch, as a precautionary measure against the virus which has so far infected six people in the country..
Thousands of people were expected to attend the memorial in Christchurch on Sunday.
“This is a pragmatic decision. We’re very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn’t create the risk of further harm being done,” Xinhua news agency quoted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as saying.
In the US, President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency “to unleash the full power of the federal government” against the outbreak in the country and that up to $50 billion will be available to states and territories to meet the challenge.
The declaration came as the number of coronavirus cases in the US hit 1,800 with 41 deaths.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a deal with the Trump administration for an aid package called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from Congress that aims at direct relief to Americans – free testing, two weeks of sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programmes.
Also on Friday, the European Commission said it will set up a 37 billion euro ($41 billion) investment fund and allow “maximum flexibility” on state aid and fiscal rules to help member states weather the economic hit by the outbreak, reports the SCMP newspaper.
This announcement came after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization, said earlier in the day that Europe was now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic.
As of Saturday, Europe’s worst-affected country, Italy reported 17,660 cases with 1,266 deaths.
Italy was followed by Spain (4,231 cases, 120 deaths), France (3,661 cases, 79 deaths) and Germany (3,062 cases, eight deaths).
Globally there were 141,467 cases and 5,399 deaths. This figure also includes China.