Coronavirus: First fatality outside of China as man dies in Philippines

Death toll rises above 300 as more than 14,000 cases confirmed

Andy Gregory
Sunday 02 February 2020 09:38
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Reginal medical director of International SOS explains how worried we should be by Coronavirus

A man in the Philippines has become the first person to die from the coronavirus outside of China.

The 44-year-old man from Wuhan – the city at the centre of the outbreak – was admitted to hospital in Manila on 25 January with a fever, cough and sore throat, the Philippine Department of Health said.

Despite developing severe pneumonia, he “was stable and showed signs of improvement” in the days before his death. The 38-year-old woman he was with has tested positive for the virus and remains in hospital isolation.

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, approved a temporary ban on all travellers from China and its autonomous regions, except Filipinos, on Saturday.

It came as the overall death toll rises above 300, with more than 14,000 cases of the virus confirmed worldwide as the number of cases surged by a record amount.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

However, some countries are responding to fears of the virus spreading by ramping up border controls.

The US, Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions on those travelling from China, despite an assessment from the WHO that they were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.​

With more than 60 million people under lockdown in Hubei province, several countries have moved to evacuate their citizens.

A second flight carrying British nationals will arrive in Europe on Sunday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed, without revealing how many people were being brought back.

The BBC reported 11 Britons would arrive in France before being taken to Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside, where 83 British nationals who arrived from Wuhan on Friday are already being kept.

“They will be treated very well, and of course the reason we need to do that is on the one hand we want to get the UK nationals that want to leave China out, on the other hand we need to make sure we control and prevent the spread of the coronavirus because of the implications that that would have,” Mr Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge.

The UK’s first two cases of the virus – a student at the University of York and their relative – were confirmed on Friday.

“Current information from [Public Health England] suggests that the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus whilst they had symptoms, but investigations are ongoing to fully establish this,” a university spokesperson said on Saturday.

Health chiefs faced criticism for their “unfortunate” decision not to initially confirm the patients had been in York.

“They should have given some more clear information about where it was, what dates they thought that contact might have happened, and given some more information about how they were going to identify contacts,” said Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in medicine at the University of East Anglia.

“I think some clearer information early on would have been very useful and would have been reassuring for a lot of people who have perhaps been in York.”

Sunday will see the launch of the government’s public health campaign to help reassure the public over the outbreak and prevent the virus from spreading further, with adverts informing people how to best protect themselves set to appear on social media, radio shows and in newspapers.

Additional reporting by agencies

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