Wuhan coronavirus death toll now at 81

Medical staff wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city, arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday. (Photo: Hector Retamal for Foreign Policy)

The deadly Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has now claimed the lives of at least 81 people and infected over 2,700 people in China alone, according to health officials in the Asian country.

The new coronavirus, which can be spread from human-to-human, is proving to be a difficult outbreak to contain as Chinese authorities banned all travel and trade to minimise the spread in Wuhan, however, cases of infection are expected to rise.

Mayor of Wuhan Zhou Xianwang, in a press conference last week, said that as a vast majority of cases may be left unconfirmed, more than 30,000 people are being monitored on suspicion of contracting the disease.

“It’s estimated that 45% of cases will be confirmed. So, it’s likely there will be around 1,000 more confirmed cases,” Mayor Zhou Xianwang explained.

There are concerns that 2019-nCoV could possibly be much more contagious than previously anticipated.

A report from Al Jazeera noted that in the days before the lockdown in Wuhan, Mayor Zhou Xianwang declared that almost five million people fled the central China city.

The city, located in the Hubei province, is a key transport hub as flights connect it to over 40 international destinations; additionally, the metropolis boasts a functional rail system that effectively joins Wuhan with every major city in China.

Already, cases of the coronavirus, which origins remain a mystery, have been reported outside the Wuhan epicentre – across China, neighbouring countries and as far away as France, the United States and Australia.

Chinese officials have since sent more resources and medical personnel to Wuhan; placing travel restrictions in several cities and forcibly containing nearly 56 million people in the midst of the health emergency.