Authorities in China Warn 'Excessive and Disorderly' Protective Clothing May Increase Coronavirus Infections

Chinese authorities have warned that "excessive and disorderly" use of protective clothing could increase infection and waste limited resources as cases of the new coronavirus continue to soar.

According to Reuters, China's National Health Commission called for "reasonable use" of the clothing on Sunday as the country struggles to deal with severe equipment shortages, affecting protective suits, goggles, and masks. The statement comes shortly after news that the death toll of the coronavirus (2019-nCov) officially surpassed the number killed during the SARS epidemic.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) infected 8,098, killing 774, in spring 2003.

More than 800 people have now died from 2019-nCov since the outbreak began in December 2019, including one U.S. citizen whose death was confirmed on Saturday. The vast majority of deaths, and cases, have been limited to mainland China.

Almost all recorded deaths were in China's Hubei Province, where the disease was first detected. The coronavirus has been traced to a wildlife market in the province's capital, the city of Wuhan, which is currently in lockdown.

Hubei officials announced an additional 2,841 cases and 81 fatalities from the coronavirus on Friday, Reuters reported. According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, the the total number of deaths reported in the province now stands at 780. However, authorities have been accused of hiding the extent of the outbreak and, according to citizens' accounts, the true number could be higher.

One of the most prominent deaths includes that of a 33-year-old doctor, Li Wenlian, which has caused public outcry inside and outside of China. Li was reprimanded by officials for warning about the severity of the new coronavirus before it was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A 60-year-old U.S. citizen, became the first non-Chinese person to die from the coronavirus, succumbing to his illness on February 6 in Jinyintan Hospital, Wuhan. The news was confirmed by the U.S. Embassy early Saturday morning.

Volunteers transport medical supplies, Wuhan
Chinese authorities urge "reasonable use" of protective clothing amid shortages. This photo taken on February 4, 2020 shows staff members and volunteers transferring medical supplies at a warehouse of an exhibition centre which has been converted into a makeshift hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak, in China's central Hubei province. STR/AFP/Getty

Meanwhile, two deaths linked to the disease have been reported outside of China: one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

A patient treated in the Philippine city of Manilla was the first person to die from the coronavirus outside of mainland China, falling ill after a trip to Wuhan. The 39-year-old man who died in Hong Kong had also arrived from the disease's epicenter of Wuhan.

Worldwide, more than 37,500 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the virus began. Around 3,000 have fully recovered. This includes 12 cases in the U.S. of which one patient (based in Seattle) has recovered.

This graph, created by Statista, shows countries where the coronavirus has been confirmed as of February 6, 2020.

Coronavirus Countries Statista
Countries where coronavirus has been confirmed as of 6 February. Statista
Authorities in China Warn 'Excessive and Disorderly' Protective Clothing May Increase Coronavirus Infections | World