Hong Kong (CNN)The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus has risen to 1,770, with an additional 100 deaths reported Sunday in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak.
There have been more than 71,000 cases worldwide, with the vast majority of those in mainland China. The largest outbreaks outside of China have been in Singapore and Japan, where the Diamond Princess cruise ship has been docked for almost two weeks now, while health officials tested the thousands of passengers and crew on board.
So far, more than 350 cases have been confirmed aboard the ship, with an additional 70 on Sunday. More are expected before the official end of the quarantine period, after which Japanese officials said it would take two or three days for passengers to disembark, during which they will be tested once again.
Hundreds of Americans on board were able to leave Sunday, on a specially-chartered flight organized by the US government. They are swapping one quarantine for another, however, with US authorities saying Saturday that on their return stateside, the passengers will have to undergo another two-weeks of observation and testing at one of two military bases.
The move sparked anger from many passengers, who saw it as yet another delay to getting back to their normal lives. “It’s like a prison sentence for something I did not do,” passenger Karey Mansicalco told CNN from her cabin. “They are holding us hostage for absolutely no reason.”
Taiwanese authorities on Sunday reported the island’s first death from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The man in his mid-60s tested had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes and no history of traveling abroad. His death came as another case was confirmed in Taiwan, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 20.
While the vast majority of deaths have occurred in mainland China, there have been fatal cases of the virus in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan and France. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than two dozen countries worldwide, affecting nearly every continent.
“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), told CNN last week. “We don’t know a lot about this virus. This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”
While more research is needed to fully understand the virus, Redfield said that the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment strategies to slow possible progression of the virus in the US.
Slowing progression gives more time for researchers to work on developing and testing a vaccine and antiviral drugs for this novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no known cure for the virus.
As the outbreak has worsened, officials in Hubei have faced increasing scrutiny about whether they intentionally downplayed reports of the virus in the early weeks, or ignored evidence that it was being spread from person-to-person, delaying any efforts to contain it before it was too late.
Multiple officials have been removed from their positions, while others have offered to resign. It had been thought that any blame for the delay in response was contained to Hubei itself, and that central authorities were as in the dark as the international community until late January, when Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped in himself, ordering “all out efforts” to rein in the virus’ spread.
Over the weekend, however, a transcript of a speech Xi gave earlier this month was