China Touts Slowing Coronavirus Toll, as South Korean Cases Rise

Health officials in the state of Washington reported the first coronavirus death in the U.S.

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear move to spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, at Dongdaegu railway station in Daegu.

Photo: -/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

South Korea reported more than 800 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the most of any country caught up in the epidemic, as China said it crossed a key threshold in its fight against the deadly disease.

Health officials in the state of Washington reported the first coronavirus death in the U.S. on Saturday, and Australia on Sunday reported its first confirmed death—a man in his 70s who had returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The virus has quickly spread to disparate places around the world, increasingly with no clear links to China, where the outbreak began. Public-health officials say the illness is now all but impossible to stop, in part because many mild cases appear to be going undetected.

The Latest on the Coronavirus

  • Washington state health officials report the first death of a coronavirus patient in the U.S.
  • China says 39,002 people have been cured and discharged, exceeding the more than 37,000 people who are still infected
  • South Korea reports 800 new coronavirus cases; total rises to 3,150 with four dead
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow labs to begin testing for coronavirus
  • Confirmed cases in Iran jumped more than 50% overnight to 593

2020欧洲杯APPChina touted figures showing the number of people in the country who have recovered from the virus-borne disease now exceeds the number of those confirmed to still have it. The official People’s Daily newspaper put the number of patients who have been cured and discharged from hospitals at 39,002, exceeding the 37,414 people still confirmed to have been infected by the new coronavirus.

The claim shows how China’s government is seeking to position itself as having effectively stopped the spread of the virus internally while being able to assist other countries struggling with their own outbreaks.

2020欧洲杯APPChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called his Italian and Iranian counterparts on Friday and offered to provide help and share China’s expertise in fighting the disease. A team of Chinese experts arrived in Tehran on Saturday, as confirmed cases in Iran jumped more than 50% overnight to 593. Nine more people died from the illness there, bringing the total number of fatalities to 43 and making it the deadliest outbreak outside of China.

The increase in South Korea came mostly in Daegu, the southern city at the center of the country’s outbreak; in addition, four people have died. It took the total number of cases in the country to 3,150, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of new infections in South Korea have exceeded those in China over the past few days.

In a commentary published in USA Today and several Chinese official media outlets on Saturday, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S., said China “has erected a Great Wall of disease prevention for the world.” But some epidemiologists thought it was too early for China to claim victory.

“The next step for China will be restarting its economy while preventing a resurgence in transmission,” said Ben Cowling, head of the epidemiology and biostatistics division at Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health, adding that other affected countries faced the same challenge. “The global pandemic is only just starting.”

2020欧洲杯APPWestern Australia’s chief health officer said Sunday the wife of the man who died overnight was also infected with Covid-19 and is in isolation. The man had been diagnosed in a quarantine facility outside the northern Australian city of Darwin nine to 10 days ago.

China reported 47 deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday. Nearly 80,000 cases have been confirmed there, with a total of 2,835 deaths, according to the National Health Commission. While the situation in much of the country appears to be stabilizing, the city of Wuhan, where the epidemic got its start, reported more than 400 new cases and 37 of the deaths, the health commission said.

2020欧洲杯APPOnly seven new infections were reported elsewhere in the country as of Saturday morning and restrictions are being tightened to keep the virus contained. On Friday in Beijing, officials said anyone who is stuck in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, can’t return to the capital.

Officials in the southeastern coastal city of Ningbo said Thursday that informants would be awarded the equivalent of about $1,400 for turning in a person who is confirmed to have the virus.

Italy, according to its Civil Protection Department, had 888 confirmed cases of infection and 21 deaths as of Friday. The number of coronavirus infections in Germany had risen to nearly 70, authorities said on Saturday, about half of them in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where dozens of people were infected during the annual carnival celebrations this month.

The U.K. said the number of people known to have the virus had risen to 20, with the latest victim being the first not to have traveled abroad. The previous two new cases announced Friday had traveled to Iran.

French authorities announced that the coronavirus outbreak had passed from stage 1 to stage 2 there, requiring stricter measures to control its spread.

On Saturday, authorities announced that all public gatherings would be canceled in areas where clusters of coronavirus have been identified, in the Oise, a region in northern France, and La Balme-de-Sillingy, a town in the Alps near the Swiss border.

The authorities also canceled gatherings across France of more than 5,000 in closed spaces or where attendees would risk mixing with people from areas impacted by the virus. That means the Paris half-marathon Sunday would be canceled but a soccer match between Lyon and Saint-Etienne will go ahead, officials said.

In North Korea, no cases have been reported. During a meeting of the nation’s Workers' Party’s Central Committee, leader Kim Jong Un ordered that all channels through which the virus could enter the country be sealed off, according to state media. He said prevention measures were “a crucial state affair.”

As the coronavirus threatens to spread across the U.S., federal health authorities expand the criteria for whom should be tested and streamline test-kit approvals. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

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