Wuhan virus toll rises, 56 dead & 1,975 confirmed infections in China

Virus still not under control.

Belmont Lay| January 26, 10:50 AM

The novel coronavirus death toll in China has risen to at least 56 as the number of confirmed infections surged to 1,975 as of Sunday, Jan. 26.

A total of 688 of them are new cases.

Of those, 324 people were considered to be in severe condition.

More deaths have been reported in regions outside of Wuhan, the ground zero of the virus.

The first case of death in the financial hub of Shanghai has been recorded.

Among the new deaths, 13 were in Hubei, the province of the epicentre of the outbreak.

At least 52 people have now died in total in Hubei, two in central Henan province, one in Heilongjiang in the northeast and one in Hebei in the north.

Hubei’s health authorities separately reported 323 new confirmed cases of the virus, which first emerged in the provincial capital, Wuhan, in late December.

Xi Jinping warns of cover ups

China's President Xi Jinping warned on Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as he led a meeting of the Communist Party’s top leaders.

Reports have emerged of hospitals struggling to cope with growing numbers of sick people.

Xi has warned officials will be punished for withholding information.

He said a group will be set up to oversee the response to the epidemic, and it will report directly to China’s seven most powerful leaders.

Chinese social media has been abuzz with criticism of the government's handling of the crisis.

The criticisms have centered on the initial response by authorities in Wuhan.

One user wrote on Weibo, in an apparent reference to Xi: "Where is that person? He is not on the front line."

Virus not under control

The surge in the death count in China signals the virus is not yet under control.

This is despite aggressive steps by authorities there to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak.

The China Development Bank approved an emergency loan of 2 billion yuan (S$390 million) for Wuhan to provide medical aid, emergency gear and expenses for epidemic prevention and control.

Canada now on the list

Canada is the 16th country or territory to confirm a case of infection.

The person infected is a man who returned to Toronto on Jan. 22 after visiting Wuhan.

Toronto health authorities are in touch with federal officials to help determine who came in contact with the man, in his 50s, on his flights from Wuhan.

Top photo of Central Hospital of Wuhan via Weibo