Coronavirus: Death toll in China now higher than that of SARS

The AM Show 04/02/2020

The death toll in China from coronavirus has now surpassed that of SARS.

So far, 361 people have died in China due to the virus, more than the 349 people who died there during the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. 

The virus has also claimed one life outside of China, in the Philippines, bringing the total death toll to 362.

The total death toll for coronavirus is still less than half that of SARS, which claimed around 800 lives worldwide. 

The mortality rate of SARS was 9.6 percent, compared to around 2 percent for coronavirus. 

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the virus a global emergency and many countries have moved to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the virus which is now in lockdown.

An Air New Zealand plane departed last night to pull out Kiwis from the region. It is expected to return to New Zealand from China on Wednesday evening. As of Monday evening, the number of passengers travelling on the flight had yet to be confirmed, with a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) calling it a "complex operation".

Once the passengers return to New Zealand they will be transported to a military facility at Whangaparaoa, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

New Zealand has also placed a temporary ban on airlines flying into the country, in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

No cases have been confirmed here yet, though the Ministry of Health has said the likelihood of the virus reaching our shores is high.

Despite the measures imposed by various countries stopping people travelling from mainland China, WHO is appealing for calm, with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organisation's chief, saying there was no need for measures that "unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade".

"We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent," he said.

More than 17,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed globally so far.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter James Fyfe