The death toll in China climbed above 1,000, as the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that the spread of cases outside of China could be “the spark that becomes a bigger fire” and said the human race must not let the epidemic get out of control.
Hubei province, the epicenter out the outbreak, reported 103 deaths on Monday – the most in any single day – after 91 deaths on Sunday. But the 2,097 new cases were down from the previous day when there were 2,618.
It is not the first time new cases have fallen. Hubei reported 2,841 cases on Feb. 7 and 2,147 the next day.
There are now over 42,000 confirmed cases in China as well as 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to WHO and Chinese health officials.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew on board remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, taking the number of confirmed cases from the Carnival Corp-owned (CCL.N) vessel to 135.
As scientists race to develop tests and treatments, the WHO says 168 labs globally have the right technology to diagnose the virus. Companies have been struggling to find clinical virus samples needed to validate the diagnostic tests they have developed.
Worries about the coronavirus kept investors on edge with safe-havens like gold rising and the dollar hitting a four-month high against the euro on Monday.
In Europe, shares in car companies. SAP exposed to China slumped, while prices of oil, iron ore and copper fell on worries over weaker Chinese demand because of the outbreak.
Wall Street rose on optimism for corporate earnings and the economy, with the Nasdaq hitting a record high.
British Airways canceled all its flights to mainland China until the end of March.
Wu Fan, the vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school, said there was the hope of a turning point in the outbreak. But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there had been “concerning instances” of transmission from people who had not been to China.
“It could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,” Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
An advance team of international WHO experts arrived in China to investigate the outbreak. Its death toll has now surpassed that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds worldwide in 2002/2003.
(With inputs from India today)