The number of people infected by the coronavirus worldwide has risen to above 31,000 as of Friday

The number of people infected by the coronavirus worldwide has risen to above 31,000, and the death toll has topped 600 as of Friday, according to the NY Times. National health authorities also said that more than 70 new deaths and 3,100 cases emerged in the past 24 hours in China alone. All but two of the deaths have been in mainland China, with one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong, according to CBS News. The vast majority of the cases are in China, but the number of confirmed cases in the US has risen to 12. The U.S. government has chartered two more evacuation flights from Wuhan, China on Thursday, following the two planes that landed in California on Wednesday carrying about 350 people. The 300 additional evacuees will arrive in San Diego and Omaha on Friday, and spend up to two weeks in quarantine while they are monitored for symptoms of the virus. ~

Among the new deaths is Dr. Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor who was among the first to warn about the virus outbreak in late December. He was threatened by the Chinese government after he voiced concerns about the new virus, and was among eight physicians punished by Wuhan police for discussing the emergence of a SARS-like virus on social media in December. The 34-year-old died in a hospital in Wuhan on Friday. After an outrage on social media following his death, the Chinese government promised to conduct an investigation into his death. ~

China has begun testing an antiviral drug on coronavirus patients. Currently there are no approved treatments for illnesses caused by coronaviruses. An antiviral medicine called “remdesivir” made by the American pharmaceutical company Gilead was entered into a clinical trial by China on Thursday. The drug is still experimental and is not yet approved for any use, and has never been studied in patients with a coronavirus. However, studies of infected mice and monkeys have suggested that it could possibly be used to fight coronaviruses. ~

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