The death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China has climbed to 811, surpassing that of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, officials said, as a 60-year-old U.S. citizen became what appears to be the first American fatality from the global virus outbreak.
In a possibly hopeful sign, however, the number of new cases reported over the last 24 hours on Sunday fell significantly from the previous period. Another 89 deaths were reported, while 2,656 new cases were added for a total of 37,198. On Saturday, 3,399 cases were counted for the previous 24 hours.
SARS is widely considered to have killed 774 people and sickened 8,098, mainly in mainland China and Hong Kong. The response this time has been much quicker and countries around the world are enforcing stricter measures to contain the spread of the virus, which broke out in Wuhan, China, in December.
The American victim, who was not identified, died on Wednesday after being diagnosed in the coronavirus in Wuhan, according to the U.S. Embassy.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said a Japanese man in his 60s being treated in Wuhan also died. It said the patient had been suspected of having the coronavirus but that it had not been confirmed.
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In the the U.S., another group of 201 American evacuees from Wuhan arrived at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, to drop off 53 people for a two-week quarantine.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Moran Ortagus said that the U.S. had brought more than 800 Americans from Wuhan in recent days.
The plane that landed in California then flew on to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where about 90 people will be quarantined, and then to Omaha, Nebraska, where the remaining 57 passengers will be housed at a nearby Nebraska National Guard training base.
There were no signs of illness among those who flew into Lackland Air Force Base, said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology. There were no immediate reports on the conditions of the other passenger.
In other developments:
• Two more cruise ship passengers were diagnosed with the virus in Japan for a total of 63 on board the ship.
• Five people from Britain, including one child, are hospitalized in France with the new virus from China after contracting it during a holiday in the Alps.
The announcement comes as China’s ruling Communist Party faced a sharp public backlash following the death of a Chinese doctor who had been reprimanded by police in January for warning fellow doctors about the initial outbreak.
Li Wenliang, 34, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, contracted the virus while treating patients, and his death was confirmed early Friday. Li was one of eight medical professionals in Wuhan who were arrested for attempting to warn colleagues about the virus outbreak. They were forced to sign statements confessing to the spreading of “falsehoods.”
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Contributing: Associated Press