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2 Feb, 2020 03:16

First lethal case outside China: WHO confirms death of coronavirus patient in Philippines

First lethal case outside China: WHO confirms death of coronavirus patient in Philippines

A man has died in the Philippines after testing positive for coronavirus, becoming the first lethal case of the outbreak outside China. The deceased recently returned from Wuhan, the center of the crisis.

The 44-year-old man died on Saturday after losing his battle with the deadly virus, which has claimed the lives of 304 people in China. The man, a resident of Wuhan, was admitted to a local hospital after displaying flu-like symptoms such as a cough and sore throat, the World Health Organization said.

Dr Rabi Abeyasinghe, WHO representative in the Philippines, confirmed at a press briefing on Saturday that the man’s demise was the first caused by the coronavirus outside China.

 This is the first reported case outside of China. However, we need to keep in mind that he came from Wuhan, China.

It was the second confirmed case of the virus in the Philippines, the first was his close contact who had also traveled from Wuhan.

The Philippines reported its first confirmed case of the virus – a 38-year-old Chinese woman – on Thursday. She arrived from Wuhan on January 21.

In wake of the announcement, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a ban on all foreign arrivals traveling from mainland China. The travel restrictions also apply to Hong Kong and Macau.

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The hospital that treated the man, as well as local healthcare officials, said that all “infection prevention and control measures” are in place to prevent the further spread of the novel virus.

The Philippines Department of Health said that medical officials have been in the process of “identifying those who may have come into close contact with the cases.”

Several major Philippines airlines have started cancelling or drastically reducing the number of flights to China. Philippine Airlines reported that it would cut the number of flights between the capital Manila and mainland China by half. Philippines AirAsia said that it was suspending all inbound and outbound China flights until March 1, citing the “health situation.”

With many countries, including the US, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Russia and others limiting travel from and to China, Beijing has taken aim at those "creating tension" and “spreading panic,” voicing criticism over the measure.

The Chinese government insists that its response to the crisis has been more than adequate, and goes “far beyond” the standards accepted worldwide.

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The outbreak that has been gripping China since late December has spread to over 20 countries. As of Saturday evening, the death toll leaped to 305. Apart from the Filipino man, all other deaths were reported in China, the majority of them in Hubei Province. The number of confirmed cases in China increased by 2,590 a single day and now stands at 14,380.

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