SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak, reported 70 new deaths and 2,987 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, the local health commission said in a notice on Thursday.
The increase brings the total number of deaths in the province to 549 by the end of Feb. 5, with the total number of cases at 19,665.
The number of deaths in the province on Wednesday was higher than the 65 reported the previous day, though the number of new cases fell slightly from 3,156.
Hubei in central China has been in virtual lockdown for nearly two weeks, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed off. The coronavirus was first identified in Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan and is believed to have originated at a seafood market in the city.
Wuhan itself continues to bear the brunt of the virus, and was the location of nearly 60% of all the province’s new cases on Wednesday.
The death rate so far has also been significantly higher in Wuhan than in the rest of the country, suggesting that the total number of cases might have been under-reported, with the city trying to diagnose thousands of patients despite a shortage of medical equipment and hospital beds. [nL4N2A51C8]
The province’s healthcare infrastructure has come under heavy pressure as a result of the epidemic.
A cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday said one of the government’s priorities was to ensure that Hubei and Wuhan were granted the necessary supplies and medical personnel to tackle the virus.
The commission said as many as 14,314 people were still undergoing treatment on Wednesday, with 2,328 still in serious condition.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Sandra Maler and Bill Berkrot