Rise in new coronavirus cases in China reflects 'broader definition' of infection

Enlarge this image

Enlarge this image

Over four-fifths of the province's new cases were in the capital Wuhan.

The death toll from the coronavirus is higher than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, which is believed to have killed 774 people and sickened almost 8,100 in China and Hong Kong.

The apparent slowdown in the number of new coronavirus cases in China should be viewed with "extreme caution", the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Australian National University China researcher Jiang Yun (姜雲) said that the new methodology might be a "practical measure", because Hubei has a shortage of laboratory testing kits.

The political shakeup may have been timed to match the change in reporting standards, so that centrally appointed newcomers could be perceived as taking control and fixing the crisis, versus local officials who are now shouldering the blame for allowing the virus' spread.

Fever patients and close contacts of the confirmed infection cases will be placed under centralized quarantine.

Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician's diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests. This follows when authorities have changed the way they calculate the figures.

The epidemic has given China's ruling Communist Party one of its sternest challenges in years, constrained the world's second-largest economy and triggered a purge of provincial bureaucrats.

On Thursday, an 80-year-old Japanese woman became the third person to die of the virus outside mainland China.

Japan is one of the worst affected of more than two dozen countries and territories outside mainland China that have seen hundreds of infections from the flu-like sickness.

In a statement Wednesday, GloPID-R chair Yazdan Yazdanpanah said that "equitable access-making sure we share data and reach those most in need, in particular those in lower and middle-income countries, is fundamental to this work which must be guided by ethical considerations at all times".

Reuters reported Thursday that "elderly passengers on the Diamond Princess who have pre-existing conditions or are in windowless rooms would be allowed to leave starting from Friday, rather than the originally targeted date of February 19".

Japan's Health Ministry announced that 44 more people on a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, have tested positive for COVID-19. The Westerdam cruise ship anchored Thursday off Cambodia for health checks on its 2,200 passengers and crew. Health officials are investigating how she got infected.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters five of the patients who were already sent to hospitals for isolation and treatment have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.

Chinese health authorities reported 15,152 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, bringing the global total past 60,000.

"This does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak", Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme told a press conference in Geneva.

US President Donald Trump praised China over its handling of the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak in an interview that aired on Thursday, adding that the United States was working closely with Beijing.

Latest News