Coronavirus death toll climbs to 1,114 in China as WHO names it Covid-19


Wuhan city, and much of Hubei province, has been under an unprecedented lockdown January 23 onwards to contain the outbreak.

More than 90 people died from the coronavirus outbreak in China on Tuesday, pushing the death toll to 1,114 until midnight, Chinese health officials said on Wednesday.

The total number of infections has risen to 44,742 with more than 33,300 cases reported from the worst-hit central Chinese province of Hubei, the officials added.

The Geneva-based WHO has given a new name to the disease, Covid-19, which was announced late on Tuesday.

The soaring numbers come in the backdrop of authorities ordering the sealing of residential buildings in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, from Tuesday to prevent human-to-human transmission.

“All residential communities will be sealed off from Tuesday, in a bid to further strengthen the control of the epidemic and minimise the flow of personnel,” a government notice said adding that “…all building units with confirmed patients or suspected cases should be strictly closed and managed.”

“Suspected cases with mild symptoms including patients who have a fever should be quarantined and treated at nearby designated medical institutions. They shall not seek medical treatment in other districts to curb the spread of the virus,” another notice, quoted by Chinese state media, said.

The city, and much of Hubei province, has been under an unprecedented lockdown January 23 onwards to contain the outbreak.

The Hubei housing authority has announced that all the residential areas in the province would restrict people from going in and out amid coronavirus outbreak, all people would have body temperature checked before entry, provincial media reported.

“Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, is still at very difficult moment, although 2019 n-CoV has lower death rate compared to SARS and MERS, the city has not completely solved the problem of people-to-people transmission,” Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government top medical advisor on the epidemic said on Tuesday.

The province reported 1,638 new cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia on February 11, with 94 new deaths and 417 cases of recovery. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 33,366, with 1,068 deaths and 2,639 cases of recovery.

Hours earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had given a new name to the illness that has triggered an international public health emergency, infecting nearly 400 more people in 24 countries.

The name “COVID-19” does not make any reference to a place or animal to avoid stigmatisation.

“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while announcing it.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” he added.

The new name is taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease”, with 2019 representing the year that it emerged.

The outbreak emerged in Hubei’s capital city, Wuhan, in December and was reported to the WHO December 31.

“COVID-19 (or Covid-19) stands for coronavirus disease in 2019,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist said in Geneva at a press briefing.

“The virus itself is named by international group of virologists who will look into the taxonomy,” she said, adding: “But it is important to have a name for this disease that everybody uses.”