Feb 16, 2020 11:29 UTC
  • China epidemic slows, prompting cautious optimism

Figures show a slowdown in the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, prompting praise for China for its efforts to contain the epidemic.

According to Press TV, the number of new cases of COVID-19 infection dropped for a third consecutive day on Sunday, and the number of deaths stayed level at 139 with that of Saturday.

Since the outbreak started in December last year, 1,665 people have died in mainland China, and more than 68,000 others have now been infected.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China for the steps it had taken to contain the outbreak at its source.

“Much has been written and said about my praise for China,” Ghebreyesus said. “I will continue to do that, as I would and I did for any country that fights an outbreak aggressively at its source to protect its own people and the people of the world, even at great costs to itself.”

He said international experts were now on the ground in China, working closely with their Chinese counterparts to understand the outbreak and to inform the next steps in the global response.

While the slowdown in the tolls signaled hope that the outbreak may have been contained, its trajectory remained unclear.

The WHO chief said it was “impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.” He said global concern remained high about the spread of the virus, further warning, “China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time.”

Meanwhile, British cruise ship Diamond Princess remains quarantined at the dockside of the Japanese port of Yokohama.

So far, 335 of the about 3,700 passengers and crew on board have tested positive for the virus.