Published: Fri, February 14, 2020
Medical | By

China's coronavirus death toll surpasses 1400, but fewer new cases

The rise in China's reported cases on Thursday reflected a decision by authorities there to reclassify a backlog of suspected cases by using patients' chest images, and did not necessarily indicate a wider epidemic, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday. The worldwide death toll now exceeds 1,300.

The CT scans reveal lung infections, the Hubei health commission said, and enable confirmation and faster isolation of new virus cases. The daily death toll nearly halved when compared to Wednesday's 14,840.

The health authority said an accumulated total of 63,851 people have been infected by the coronavirus.

However, Beijing has been facing skepticism among the global public, with many fearing that there might be similarities to the way it dealt with SARS.

China's Health Commission has said that the change was aimed at identifying suspected cases in which the patient has pneumonia so they can be treated more quickly and reduce the likelihood of more serious illness or death.

In Wuhan, the capital of the central Chinese province of Hubei at the center of the outbreak, 88 additional deaths were reported. There are now 4,131 patients who have recovered and been discharged.

Local officials' concealment of the outbreak's severity and silencing of those who spoke up about it, including a doctor who later died from COVID-19, has sparked fury and demand for accountability across China.

But he added that the apparent stabilisation in the number of new cases in China and the slower spread of cases outside Hubei province - where the virus first emerged - was reassuring. All the other employees worked on the same floor as the patient.

"I think it's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now", said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies program. Outside mainland China, there are more than 300 infections, with just two deaths - one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, a cruise ship carrying about 2,000 passengers was denied in five ports - Japan, Guam, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines.

The ship, MS Westerdam had docked in Cambodia.

"The patient is among a group of people under a federal quarantine order at JBSA-Lackland in Texas due to their recent return to the USA on a State Department-chartered flight that arrived on February 7, 2020", the CDC said.

Workers load supplies onto the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Thursday, February 13, in Yokohama, Japan.

Japanese authorities might soon allow people quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo, where 12 Canadians have contracted the novel coronavirus, to disembark and finish out their isolation on land. This means that people have shown clinical symptoms of the new disease, but are yet to be tested positive.

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