Health officials in China announced on Friday that the new coronavirus has sickened at least 1,716 health care workers and killed six. Roughly 87 per cent of those health workers infected with COVID-19 were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, according to Chinese state media outlet China Daily.
The deputy director of China’s National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, made the announcement at a press conference today, stressing that every health care worker would be compensated through work-related injury insurance.
“At present, the duties of medical workers at the front are indeed extremely heavy. Their working and resting circumstances are limited, the psychological pressures are great, and the risk of infection is high,” Zeng said, according to an English translation by Reuters.
Zeng stressed the need to let health care workers get rest, something that has been an issue, based on photos circulating on social media of doctors and nurses collapsing in their protective clothing, finding sleep wherever they can.
“Local governments should arrange medical workers with reasonable plans to make sure they have enough time for rest,” Zeng said, according to China Daily.
The six deaths and 1,716 illnesses in health care workers were as of Tuesday, leaving the possibility that even more could have gotten sick or died this week.
Zeng also explained that people who have been tested positive for the virus but don’t have symptoms, known as asymptomatic carriers, are not being counted in the official health statistics in the country. Zeng said that while asymptomatic carriers are being quarantined for 14 days, along with everyone else, there’s no need to count them among people who have contracted the disease, according to the Financial Times.
At least 65,183 have been confirmed to have cases of the new virus, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. And at least 1,486 have died worldwide.
China reported 5,090 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to CGTN, along with 121 new deaths—not including the third death from COVID-19 recorded outside of China on Thursday. Japan reports that a woman in her 80s, who had been in the hospital since February 1, died of coronavirus-related pneumonia. The woman had no travel history to China and had not been in contact with anyone on the Diamond Princess cruise that’s currently quarantined in Yokohama.
Japan started letting some elderly passengers who haven’t tested positive for the virus off the Diamond Princess on Friday after many in the global public health community questioned the wisdom of forcing thousands of people to stay aboard. Roughly 80 per cent of the passengers on the Diamond Princess are over the age of 60.
Roughly 218 people have tested positive for the virus on the ship and only a few hundred of the more than 3,700 on board have even been given the test. Aside from elderly people, some passengers without windows are reportedly being allowed to leave since everyone is required to stay in their rooms for 24 hours a day.