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Iran Press TV

China epidemic slows, prompting cautious optimism

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 16 February 2020 6:28 AM

Figures show a slowdown in the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, prompting praise for China for its efforts to contain the epidemic.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 infection dropped for a third consecutive day on Sunday, and the number of deaths stayed level at 139 with that of Saturday.

Since the outbreak started in December last year, 1,665 people have died in mainland China, and more than 68,000 others have now been infected.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China for the steps it had taken to contain the outbreak at its source.

"Much has been written and said about my praise for China," Ghebreyesus said. "I will continue to do that, as I would and I did for any country that fights an outbreak aggressively at its source to protect its own people and the people of the world, even at great costs to itself."

He said international experts were now on the ground in China, working closely with their Chinese counterparts to understand the outbreak and to inform the next steps in the global response.

While the slowdown in the tolls signaled hope that the outbreak may have been contained, its trajectory remained unclear.

The WHO chief said it was "impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take." He said global concern remained high about the spread of the virus, further warning, "China has bought the world time. We don't know how much time."

Meanwhile, British cruise ship Diamond Princess remains quarantined at the dockside of the Japanese port of Yokohama.

So far, 335 of the about 3,700 passengers and crew on board have tested positive for the virus.

A US State Department spokesperson said the Americans stranded on the vessel would be evacuated and would face a further quarantine of two weeks in the United States.

The evacuation would come days before the required two-week quarantine is supposed to end on February 19. There are about 400 American passengers on board the ship, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authorities in Hong Kong have also announced they would charter a flight for the city's residents on the ship, who would stay at a quarantine center for 14 days on their return.

Several countries have banned travel to and from China, and major airlines have cut services to the country.

American woman tests positive in Malaysia

Separately, an American passenger from another cruise ship that docked in Cambodia has tested positive for the new coronavirus a second time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said on Sunday.

The 83-year-old woman had tested positive once in the Malaysian capital, where she arrived on board the MS Westerdam on Friday from the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. But the firm Carnival Corp unit Holland, which operate the cruise ship, and Cambodian authorities had sought further tests on the passengers.

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