China sees fall in coronavirus deaths, WHO urges caution

BEIJING/GENEVA: China reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since January on Tuesday and its lowest daily death toll for a week, but the World Health Organization said data suggesting the epidemic had slowed should still be viewed with caution.

The head of a leading hospital in China’s central city of Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, died of the disease on Tuesday, becoming one of the most prominent victims since the disease first appeared at the end of last year.

Chinese officials reported 1,886 new cases – the first time the daily figure has fallen below 2,000 since Jan. 30 – bringing the mainland China total to 72,436. A figure of 98 new deaths marked the first time the daily toll in China had fallen below 100 since Feb. 11, bringing the total to 1,868.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Chinese data “appears to show a decline in new cases” but any apparent trend “must be interpreted very cautiously”.

Outside China, there have been 827 cases of the disease, known as COVID-19, and five deaths, according to a Reuters count based on official statements. More than half of those cases have been on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan.

Tedros said there had been 92 cases of human-to-human spread of the coronavirus in 12 countries outside China but the WHO did not have the data to make meaningful comparisons to what was going on in China.

“We have not seen sustained local transmission of coronavirus except in specific circumstances like the Diamond Princess cruise ship,” he said. – Reuters �?