China virus toll surges on switch to new methodology

Friday, 14 Feb, 2020

Health officials in China's hard-hit central province of Hubei reported 242 people died from the coroanvirus, COVID-19 , on Wednesday - more than twice the number of the previous day and the highest daily toll since the outbreak began.

Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.

"A very disturbing aspect of today's new numbers is that the vast majority of new cases accrued to Wuhan, but what if the rest of Hubei Province still did not adjust their reporting methods?"

A second person evacuated from Wuhan to a U.S. military base near San Diego has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, raising the tally of confirmed cases in the United States to 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday.

Pressure has increased on the party after a nationwide outpouring of grief and fury over the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who was accused by local police of spreading rumors after sounding one of the first warnings about the outbreak of the disease now known as COVID-19.

It also requires a quarantine of U.S. citizens who have recently visited Hubei province in China.

The new classification is a subset of the total number of confirmed cases and is meant to count patients who have been diagnosed based on their symptoms and CT results, rather than nucleic acid testing, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

"I'm not surprised that this has happened given the way the outbreak has been going in China", Woolhouse said.

The outbreak is suspected to have originated in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan in December. Hubei's two top health officials were fired earlier this week.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country, as hundreds of people have now been infected in some two dozen countries.

The spike in the death toll came a day after markets were cheered when China reported its lowest number of new cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by the country's senior medical adviser that the epidemic could end by April.

"Our advance team in China has made good progress in working out the composition of the team and the scope of its work".

In an unprecedented measure to contain the disease, recently dubbed COVID-19, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities - home to more than 60 million - under lockdown.

Maggie De Block, Belgium's minister of social affairs and public health, said the coordinated efforts of European health agencies have also been important in preventing shortages.

Hong Kong, where 50 cases have been confirmed, extended the suspension of schools to March 16.

Even though no one on board has fallen ill, the ship was denied permission to dock by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand.

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.

"In Singapore, we are at the beginning of the outbreak".