Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a designated hospital in Wuhan, China. (Image: Reuters)
Fears mounted Saturday over the rise of new cases and fatalities outside China from the new coronavirus outbreak, as the World Health Organization warned of a shrinking window to stem the spread of the deadly disease.
A 78 – year old Italian man died after testing positive for the virus, with the death toll reaching four in Iran, and a number of cases reported across the Middle East, including the first infections in Israel and Lebanon.
A second person died in South Korea, authorities reported Saturday, as the number of cases in the country spiked.
But just 50 new cases were reported outside the central province Saturday, as the national number of cases rose past 76, 14 .
The outbreak has now claimed 2, 345 lives in China. Concerns have also risen about the reliability of the official data, however, after Hubei officials changed methods of counting cases and amended their figures again. A WHO-led team of experts are set to visit Wuhan, the capital of the province, on Saturday.
Cases of the deadly virus were reported in a range of countries in the Middle East on Friday, with the first cases in Israel and Lebanon.
Iran said four people there had died and 18 been infected from the outbreak.
Nearly 500 people have been infected in South Korea, including two deaths, making it the hardest -hit country outside China.
They were previously cleared in Japan. The cases will fuel questions about Tokyo’s policy of allowing former passengers to return home after testing negative.
Officials retroactively revised upwards previously reported data for two days in the last week – the latest in a string of amendments to the figures officially reported at the epicentre.
Several changes in Hubei’s counting method has further complicated efforts to track the spread of the illness.