BEIJING (AP) — Japanese health authorities confirmed 10 more cases of a new virus on one of two cruisers that are quarantined with some 5,400 passengers and crew members. China reported 73 new deaths and announced that a first group of patients would start taking a new antiviral drug. Isolated ships in Japan and Hong Kong have been embroiled in a global health emergency that seems to get worse every day.
In the port city of Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo, health workers confirmed that 10 people aboard the Diamond Princess suffered from the virus, in addition to the 10 who tested positive on Wednesday. The sick were four Japanese, two Americans, two Canadians, a New Zealander and one Taiwanese, most of them over 60 years old. Patients disembarked when the ship arrived at port and were transferred to nearby hospitals. The 3,700 people on board faced a two-week quarantine in their cabins. 3,600 people were also tested on board the hong Kong ship, the World Dream, after three passengers from a previous trip were diagnosed with the virus. The besieged head of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam, announced the closure of two terminals, including one where the ship is quarantined. The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, requested 675 million to help countries address the expected spread of the virus. He acknowledged that this is a lot of money, but said in a press report that «it’s much less than the costs we’ll face if we don’t invest now in the preparations.» Tedros said that, in the last 24 hours, the agency has recorded its largest increase in cases since the outbreak began. According to the most recent figures released on Thursday, the number of confirmed cases increased by 3,694 for a total of 28,018, and that of deceased reached 563 people. The number of «cured and discharged» patients was 1,153.Outside mainland China, at least 240 cases were confirmed, including two deaths, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.Chinese authorities authorized clinical testing of the antiviral Remdesivir and was I was hoping the first group of patients would start taking the drug on Thursday, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The actions of the drug manufacturer, the US biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc., rose when the news broke. A health manager in Thailand noted that «there is currently no vaccine or specific treatment, but there are several regimens» in evidence. Antivirals and other medicines can reduce the severity of a virus’s effects, but «for now, no antiviral has been shown to be effective,» explained Thanarak Plipat, physician and deputy director general of the Ministry’s Department of Disease Control China has strongly defended its measures to control the epidemic and called on other countries not to exaggerate in their responses. Nations «can assess the epidemic situation objectively, fairly, calmly and rationally, respect WHO’s authoritative and professional recommendations, understand and support China’s epidemic control efforts,» said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chenying at an online press conference. «Fear is worse than any virus.» As thousands of hospital workers in Hong Kong went on strike to demand the total closure of its border with mainland China, the city announced that all people entering from China, including Hong Kong residents, should remain in Quarantine for 14 days. For its part, Saudi Arabia on Thursday banned its citizens and residents from traveling to China during the outbreak. Those who fail to comply with the order will not be able to return to the country, the kingdom’s General Passport Directory said.