Unclear how new testing methodology affected the rise in numbers of cases in Hubei province
The death toll in central China’s Hubei province of coronavirus outbreak jumped by a record 242 on Thursday, taking the total number of deaths in the province so far for 1310, said the provincial health commission.
New death more than twice the daily record of 103 sets of the province before Monday.
The number of new cases in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, also jumped to 14.840 as the commission said that they have started to include people who are diagnosed through a new clinical method of Thursday.
It also said it had revised the old data and suspected cases. The latest death toll includes more than 100 cases of clinically diagnosed.
It was not immediately clear how the new methodology affects the results, or why the death toll rose sharply.
State media said last week that Hubei will start to recognize the computerized tomography (CT) scans as a confirmation of the infection, which allows hospitals to isolate patients faster.
Reuters reported last month that the lack of RNA test kit in the capital of Hubei Wuhan may be delayed from the correct patient is diagnosed and treated, contributing to the spread of the virus in the early days of the outbreak.
The number of cases in the province now has reached 48 206, commission data showed.
Outbreak could ‘go in any direction’
The World Health Organization (WHO) has likened the threat of epidemics to terrorism and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO chief warned that a slowdown is evident in the spread of the epidemic must be viewed with “caution.”
“The epidemic is still able to go any direction,” he said at a briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.
Other experts said that while the coronavirus probably peaked in China, which is unlikely to occur elsewhere.
“It has spread to other places where it is the beginning of the outbreak,” Dale Fisher, head of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, coordinated by WHO, said in an interview from Singapore.
“In Singapore, we are at the beginning.” Singapore has 50 cases.
Hundreds of infection have been reported in various countries and regions, but only two people had died outside mainland China: one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
British health officials announced on Wednesday the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus there has risen to nine, said the latest patient, who in London, have caught the virus in China.
After a two-day WHO meeting in Geneva on research and innovation into measures to overcome the epidemic, Tedros welcomed the enthusiasm of the participating scientists.
He said the advance team led by the WHO, led by Canadian Dr. Bruce Aylward, traveled to China this week and is making good progress in outlining the composition and scope of work.
Earlier on Wednesday, the head of WHO’s emergency program, Dr. Mike Ryan, said it was too early to predict the end of the epidemic.
“We clearly see that the behavior of the virus outside of Wuhan in Hubei and the rest of China and outside of China do not appear at this time to be aggressive or as accelerated. And that’s a good sign,” said Ryan.
“It gives us the opportunity to prepare and react and still give us the opportunity to arrest and potential disruption of the transmission of the virus. But it’s not a guarantee.”
On Tuesday, the WHO declared a disease caused by a virus, now called COVID-19, which reflects that it comes from a new coronavirus was found in 2019.
The disease was first reported in December and is connected to the food market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where outbreaks have largely been concentrated.
more cases on cruise ships
Meanwhile, in Japan, another 39 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined there, with a quarantine officer also infected, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The Diamond Princess is placed in quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man fell in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.
Princess Cruises confirmed Wednesday morning that additional cases bring the total number of confirmed guests and crew to 174.
“We follow the guidance of the Japanese Ministry of Health plans to disembarkation protocol to provide medical care for the new cases,” the company said in a statement.
The Diamond Princess is not the only vessel that deals with the outbreak. MS WESTERDAM, which had 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, had been rejected by several ports on fears that someone on board may have a coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the Holland America Line announced that Cambodia has agreed to take the ship, which has not reported to have any sick passengers.
“All the guests onboard sound, and despite reports that one knew or suspected cases of coronavirus in the board, nor have there,” said a statement from the cruise line.
In Canada, the number of confirmed cases stands at seven – four in BC and three in Ontario. On Wednesday, public health officials in Ontario said that one out of three patients in this province have returned two negative tests for the virus within 24 hours. Two other people with the virus do well enough to get out of the hospital.
Dr. Theresa Tam, head of the health of Canadians, confirmed Tuesday that the risk to people in Canada – including those who live near CFB Trenton in Ontario, where individuals were repatriated from China was living under quarantine – still low.
Chinese scientists are testing two antiviral drugs against the virus, but initial clinical trial results are weeks away, Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, co-chair of the meeting of the WHO, said Wednesday.
Kieny said some patients have been treated with a combination of the antiviral drug ritonavir and lopinavir, but he does not have the right amount.
It “would be excellent if it would work because this drug is available in particular as a generic formulation for the treatment of HIV, so this would clearly be a drug that would be available,” Kieny said.
It remains to be seen whether the treatment will prove effective against the new virus, she said. “We don’t know the result, and we still have to wait for a few days, or a few weeks to have a result.”
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