China's daily death toll from a new virus has topped 100 for the first time, with more than 1,000 total deaths recorded, the health ministry announced Tuesday. The spread of the contagion shows little sign of abating, the AP reports. Though more offices and stores in China have reopened after the Lunar New Year break, many people appear to be staying home. Health authorities are watching to see whether workers' returning to cities and business resuming worsens the spread of the virus. Another 108 deaths were reported over the previous 24 hours, the National Health Commission said. That increased the death toll to 1,016, well beyond that of the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, which comes from the same family of coronaviruses as the current pathogen. Newly confirmed cases fell slightly to 2,478 from 3,062 the day before, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland; some of those patients have since been released from hospitals.
The outbreak's persistence is dimming optimism that the near-quarantine of some 60 million people and other disease-control measures might be working. Britain, meanwhile, declared the virus a "serious and imminent threat to public health" and said it would forcibly detain infected people if necessary. France tested scores of children and their parents after five British tourists contracted the virus at a ski resort. The director-general of the World Health Organization said that the agency is still unable to predict where the outbreak is heading but that he believes there is still an opportunity to contain it. "In recent days, we have seen some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China, like the cases reported in France yesterday and the UK today," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The detection of the small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire, but for now, it's only a spark."
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