China says 80 percent of coronavirus cases have been mild, as death toll rises again

Chinese health officials released a report which stated that among nearly 45,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, 80 percent were mild and the rate of new cases has been falling since early February, as the country noted 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths Tuesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general for the World Health Organization, said the report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention gave WHO a "clearer picture of the outbreak, how it's developing and where it's headed.”

The new disease first emerged in late December in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has spread to more than two dozen other countries. Chinese officials have said over 70,000 people have been infected and 1,868 have died in mainland China.

The new study reported on 44,672 cases confirmed in China as of Feb. 11. The virus caused severe diseases such as pneumonia in 14 percent and critical illness in 5 percent. The death rate for those confirmed cases has been 2.3 percent — 2.8 percent for males versus 1.7 percent for females.

The COVID-19 cases have included few children, and the risk of death has risen with age and among people with health problems. The rate of new cases apparently has been declining since Feb. 1, but that could change as people return to work and school after the Chinese holidays, the report warned.

Japanese officials, meanwhile, confirmed 99 more people were infected by the new virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454. Health Ministry officials said they have now tested 1,723 people on the ship, which had about 3,700 passengers and crew aboard. Outside China, the ship had the largest number of cases of COVID-19.

On Sunday night and Monday, 328 American cruise ship passengers arrived in the U.S., including 14 who tested positive for the virus and were taken to hospitals in California and Nebraska. Others were being quarantined at military bases in California and Texas.

A charter plane dropped off 170 passengers at Travis Air Force Base in the San Francisco Bay Area late Sunday, while another took about 145 passengers to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas early Monday.

Four of the Americans who tested positive for the virus were transported to California hospitals. Ten others, along with three spouses, were flown to Omaha, Neb., to get care at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, officials said. All are expected to remain at the university hospital for at least 14 days.

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New cases in other countries, meanwhile, raised concerns about containing the virus. Taiwan on Sunday reported its first death from the virus, the fifth death outside mainland China. Taiwan's Central News Agency, citing health minister Chen Shih-chung, said the man who died was in his 60s and had not traveled overseas recently and had no known contact with virus patients.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened a meeting of experts to discuss containment measures in his country, where more than a dozen cases have emerged in the past few days without any obvious link to China.

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Japan had at least 518 confirmed cases, including the 454 from the cruise ship, and one death from the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.