The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak surged to 2,000 on Wednesday, as Chinese and international health officials warned against excessive measures to contain the epidemic.
More than 74,000 people have now been infected by the virus in China, with hundreds more cases in some 25 countries. The situation remains serious at the epicentre, with the director of a hospital in the central city of Wuhan becoming the seventh medical worker to succumb to the COVID-19 illness. But Chinese officials released a study showing most patients have mild cases of the infection, and World Health Organization officials said the mortality rate was relatively low.
The outbreak is threatening to put a dent in the global economy, with China paralysed by vast quarantine measures and major firms such as iPhone maker Apple and mining giant BHP warning it could damage bottom lines. Several countries have banned travellers from China and major airlines have suspended flights — something that Beijing’s ambassador to the EU warned was fuelling panic and threatening attempts to resume business. Russia on Tuesday said no Chinese citizens would be allowed to enter its territory from February 20.