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Virus death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day: govt

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Beijing, China   /   Thu, February 13, 2020   /   10:15 am
Virus death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day: govt This photo taken on February 5, 2020 shows a patient (R) covered with a bed sheet at an exhibition centre converted into a hospital as it starts to accept patients displaying mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. - China scrambled to find bed space for thousands of newly infected patients on February 6, as the toll from a deadly new virus jumped again with more than 28,000 people known infected nationwide and 563 deaths. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (AFP/STR)

The number of fatalities and new cases from China's coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

At least 1,355 people have now died nationwide and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei's health commission reported the new numbers.

In its daily update, Hubei's health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, the Hubei health commission said it would now include cases that were "clinically diagnosed" in its official toll.

This means lung imaging on suspected cases can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.

Of the dramatic jump in figures Thursday, it said the new classification accounted for 13,332 of the cases and just over half the new death toll.

Hubei health commission said the change would mean patients could get treatment "as early as possible" and be "consistent" with the classification used in other provinces.

It said it had made the change "as our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus deepens, and as we accumulate experience in diagnosis and treatment".