Coronavirus deaths spike in China
Toll soars as a record 242 die in one day in Hubei; Japan records first fatality
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.
Laboratory technicians testing samples in Shenyang.