The death toll and contaminations to the coronavirus knew, Thursday, February 13, a sharp increase in China after the adoption by the Chinese authorities of a new method of detection of the cases.
The new figures may fuel speculation that the severity of the new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, officially called Covid-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), may have been underestimated.
The central Hubei province’s health commission, the epicenter of the epidemic, announced in its daily report Thursday 242 new deaths. This is by far the heaviest figure in 24 hours since the crisis started in December. The commission also said that 14,840 new cases of contamination had been detected in Hubei. This brings the total contaminations across mainland China to nearly 60,000.
Expanded definition of infection
These large increases are due to the adoption of a broader definition of cases of infection, said the commission, which now counts the cases “Clinically diagnosed”. This means that a chest X-ray can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus infection, rather than standard nucleic acid tests.
This change allows patients to be treated ” as soon as possible “ and to be ” coherent “ with the classification used in the other provinces, she also explained. The detection protocol was extended because “Our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus is deepening and we are gaining experience in diagnosis and treatment”, she also argued.
The development comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping was relatively optimistic on Wednesday. “Through hard work, the epidemic is evolving positively and the work of control and prevention has achieved positive results. This has not been easy “Xi said at a meeting of the Communist Party (CCP) ruling body. The daily number of deaths had registered Wednesday its first decline since February 2, to 97.
WHO recommends “extreme caution”
In Geneva, WHO tempered Beijing's optimism. Michael Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies department, said: “I think it is far too early today to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic. ” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added, advocating “Extreme caution”. “This epidemic can go in any direction”, he said.
Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun on Wednesday defended prevention and control measures “Rigorous” adopted by China in the face of the epidemic, ensuring that they exceeded ” from afar “ the requirements of the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Faced with the epidemic, we have always adopted an attitude of openness, transparency and responsibility”, he assured before a commission of the United Nations. The ambassador notably cited as an example the fact of having shared “As soon as they were available” information on the epidemic from WHO in particular, as well as the sequencing of the virus.
Zhang Jun called for solidarity and collaboration from the international community to stop the virus, adding: “Countries are linked by the same fate and no nation can survive alone. “
The coronavirus is worrying in the European Union, where cases have been reported in Germany and France. European health ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the issue.