World, Asia - Pacific, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

‘Coronavirus now spreading faster outside China’

WHO says more COVID-19 cases reported around the world in a day than in China, according to local media

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 27.02.2020
‘Coronavirus now spreading faster outside China’

ANKARA

For the first time since the outbreak started last December, more coronavirus cases are being reported in other countries than in China, local media reported on Thursday.

Chinese state broadcaster CGTN said the World Health Organization (WHO) had noted that more COVID-19 cases were reported outside China than inside the country.

The report said that in a span of 24 hours, new cases were announced in Denmark, Romania, Norway, Georgia, North Macedonia, and Greece.

Cases were also reported in Algeria and Pakistan, while Brazil became the first Latin American country to confirm a COVID-19 case.

South Korea reported a steep rise in new infections, registering 505 cases as compared to China’s 433.

Too early to tell

Professor David SC Hui, a WHO adviser from Hong Kong, said it would be premature to assume that cases in China were decreasing.

“It is too early to judge as there are still many patients in hospitals. The infection is also still evolving,” he told Anadolu Agency.

However, he said, there had been some positive developments.

“The spread of the virus seems to be under control in all Chinese provinces except for Hubei [where the outbreak started],” said David, who is the chairman of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Vaccine imminent?

Scientists in Hong Kong said they have identified a set of “potential vaccine targets” that could help develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, according to Xinhua News Agency report.

"We believe these [vaccine targets] are the most likely candidates that can trigger an immune response against COVID-19," said Matthew McKay, a data scientist at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The research team found that 20% of the SARS-CoV epitopes [small protein fragments of virus targeted by human immune cells] have an identical genetic match to the novel coronavirus, the report said.

Meanwhile, a top Chinese respiratory disease expert said a faster response by Beijing would have “greatly reduced” the scale of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the South China Morning Post.

First cases of the virus were reported in the middle of last December but Chinese authorities confirmed the possibility of human-to-human transmission on January 20.

“A delay of just a few more days could have led to well over 100,000 more infections … This is a big lesson for us,” Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said.

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