Coronavirus death toll passes 1,500 in mainland China

More than 1,000 health care workers are among those confirmed to have the virus Credit: Kin Cheung/AP

The death toll from a strain of coronavirus – also known as Covid-19 – in mainland China has passed 1,500 after health authorities reported another 143 deaths early on Saturday morning.

That increase saw the total reach 1,523 deaths.

Authorities also said the latest 2,641 daily new cases of the virus represented a “major drop” and due to the widespread implementation a new diagnostic method.

Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, now includes cases based on a physician’s diagnosis before they have been confirmed by lab tests.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The total includes more than 1,700 medical workers, a senior Chinese official announced.

Six of the workers have died, Zeng Yixin, vice director of the National Health Commission, said.

Medical workers account for about 3.8% of confirmed cases, Mr Zeng added.

Cases have been recorded in countries including Britain, Japan and the US.

Cambodia attracted the praise of the latter’s leader when it allowed a cruise ship refused entry elsewhere over coronavirus fears to dock in Sihanoukville.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met the hundreds of passengers of the Westerdam on his country’s southern coast, personally handing them flowers after they were not allowed to dock in Japan, Guam, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.

Westerdam’s operator, the Seattle-based Holland America Line, has said there have been no confirmed cases among the passengers or crew.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his gratitude, saying: “Thank you to the beautiful country of Cambodia” before adding that his country would “remember your courtesy!”

About 600 cases of the virus have been confirmed outside mainland China along with three deaths, one each in the Philippines and Hong Kong and a Japanese woman in her 80s.

In an unprecedented attempt to contain the disease, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities — home to more than 60 million people — under lockdown.

People are restricted from entering or leaving the cities, and in many places can only leave their homes or residential complexes for shopping and other daily needs.