Coro­n­avirus deaths spike in China

Toll soars as a record 242 die in one day in Hubei; Ja­pan records first fa­tal­ity

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Reuters

The Chi­nese prov­ince at the cen­tre of the coro­n­avirus out­break re­ported a record rise in deaths and thou­sands more in­fec­tions us­ing a broader case def­i­ni­tion on Thurs­day, while Ja­pan be­came the third place out­side main­land China to suf­fer a fa­tal­ity.

Ja­pan con­firmed its first death — a woman in her 80s liv­ing in Kana­gawa pre­fec­ture near Tokyo — adding to two pre­vi­ous fa­tal­i­ties in Hong Kong and the Philip­pines.

In Hubei prov­ince, in cen­tral China, of­fi­cials said 242 people died on Wednesday, the big­gest daily rise since the flu-like virus emerged in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal Wuhan in De­cem­ber. To­tal deaths in China are 1,367.

The rise, fol­low­ing a fore­cast ear­lier this week by China’s se­nior med­i­cal ad­viser that the epi­demic may end there by April, halted a global stocks rally. But it ap­peared in large part to be due to method­ol­ogy.

New case def­i­ni­tion

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

But it has also be­gun us­ing com­put­erised to­mog­ra­phy (CT) scans, which give im­ages of the lungs, the Hubei health com­mis­sion said, to iden­tify cases and iso­late them faster.

As a re­sult, 14,840 new cases were re­ported in the prov­ince on Thurs­day, from 2,015 new cases na­tion­wide a day ear­lier. But ex­clud­ing cases con­firmed us­ing the new method, the num­ber of new cases rose by only 1,508.

“It is our cur­rent un­der­stand­ing that the new case def­i­ni­tion widens the net, and in­cludes not only lab­con­firmed cases but also clin­i­cally di­ag­nosed cases based on symp­toms and ex­po­sure,” World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion spokesman Tarik Jasare­vic said.

The new method is only be­ing used in Hubei. About 60,000 people have been in­fected in to­tal, the vast ma­jor­ity of them in China.

AFP ■

Lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cians test­ing sam­ples in Shenyang.

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