Health Care

China's Hubei Province Sees Surge in Virus Deaths As Tally Method Changes

China's Hubei Province Sees Surge in Virus Deaths As Tally Method Changes”

The number of new deaths also increased dramatically, to 242.

At least 1,355 people have now died and almost 60,000 have been infected in China after Hubei's health commission reported the new numbers.

Hubei, which includes the city of Wuhan-where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, has more than 80% of official cases worldwide.

The new testing methodology is only being used in Hubei province so far, Chinese officials said.

At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei.

But it has faced continued scepticism among the global public, and USA officials have also called for more openness from China's Communist Party rulers, leading to fears that there may be similarities with the way it dealt with SARS.

Two of Hubei's senior health officials were also removed Monday.

Using quicker CT scans that reveal lung infections would help patients get treatment more quickly and improve chances of recovery, the Hubei health commission said.

Another 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei alone on February 13, from 2,015 new cases nationwide a day earlier, after provincial officials started using computerized tomography (CT) scans to look for signs of the virus.

Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process and delay treatment. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information allowing for identification of organisms like viruses.

The commission noted that it had begun including cases diagnosed through new clinical methods from Thursday.

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"Presumably, there are deaths which occurred in people who did not have a lab diagnosis but did have a CT. It should have been done earlier", Wuhan resident Wang You told Reuters.

"I think it's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now", said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.

Hundreds of infections have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and territories, but only two people have died from the virus outside mainland China - one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.

Test kits for the virus are in short supply around the world, creating a backlog, and available kits are not sensitive enough to pick up whether a person was infected and healed.

The World Health Organization also quickly countered Chinese reassurances that the epidemic, which has now officially killed more than 1,350 people in China, would peak in a matter of weeks.

Two top-ranking politicians overseeing the epicentre of the outbreak were also sacked, adding to questions over China's handling of the crisis, just hours after President Xi Jinping claimed "positive results" in battling the outbreak.

Another 44 people aboard a cruise ship that has been quarantined for over a week in Japan's Yokohama harbor tested positive for coronavirus Thursday, Japanese health officials said.

The ship had been turned away by Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as the island of Guam, because of unsubstantiated fears the ship;s 2,200 passengers and crew had been infected.

The Mobile World Congress, an annual telecoms industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, was cancelled on Wednesday after a mass exodus by exhibitors due to coronavirus-related concerns.

The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the viral disease have been confirmed.

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