The death toll from the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection has reached 638, with 636 fatalities reported in China, as clinical trials of the drug Remdesivir in patients began. As many as 31,452 cases have been reported, 31,161 of them in China. The disease has spread to 26 countries, with Hong Kong and the Philippines the only regions reporting coronavirus fatalities outside mainland China.
The trial began in Wuhan's Jinyintan hospital where a "68-year-old male patient with serious symptoms was the first to be given the drug", the Global Times reported. A total of 761 patients are participating in the trial.
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences, an American pharmaceutical company. It has shown good anti-viral activity against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), both caused by different strains of coronavirus.
The drug has also been tested on Ebola patients, Xinhua reported. It has shown fairly good antiviral activity against the 2019-nCoV at the cellular level.
On Thursday, China reported 73 fatalities and 3,143 new cases, but the number of cases fell for a second consecutive day. Most of the fatalities and cases were reported in China's hard-hit Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic. Out of 73, the province reported 69 deaths, one fatality less than a day before. Out of 3,143 new cases reported on Thursday, 2,447 occurred in Hubei, the Global Times reported. The death toll has increased to 618 in the province.
Other than Wuhan, Xiaogan is the only city to report more than 2,000 cases. It is situated in Hubei, about 70km north-west of Wuhan.
The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on China, where it originated at a local sea-food market in city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.