China's Hubei province enacts 'wartime' measures as coronavirus count rises to 16,427

Kathryn Krawczyk

Coronavirus is continuing to spread throughout China and especially in the epicenter Hubei province, the World Health Organization said in a Friday update briefing on COVID-19.

There are 47,505 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout China with 1,381 deaths reported from the pneumonia-like illness it causes, including 121 deaths reported in the past day. Six of those who died were health care workers — "a critical piece of information" as WHO continues to investigate why even rigorous medical guidelines haven't stopped the spread, WHO reported Friday.

A total of 1,716 health care workers in China have contracted COVID-19 despite WHO's guidelines, so this weekend, a team of 12 international and WHO experts will arrive in China to meet with local medical professionals for a "joint mission." The experts will particularly look at disease transmission and response measures to see how processes for health care workers, who "are working with virtually no sleep in difficult conditions," can be improved, WHO said.

Meanwhile, Hubei, home to the epicenter city of Wuhan, is "enacting 'wartime' measures" as the number of confirmed cases in the province has climbed to 16,427. The measures include blocking people from going outside, "sealing off residential complexes and allowing only essential vehicles on the roads," The Washington Post reports. The virus has kicked off an "economic fallout" throughout China, with flower sales reportedly falling as much as 95 percent this Valentine's Day, the Post continues.

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