- The Chinese province of Hubei saw a huge increase in the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases on Thursday, announcing almost 15,000 new cases and 242 additional deaths in just 24 hours.
- It's the biggest climb in a day since the outbreak started. It came when the province where the outbreak started changed their diagnostic methods.
- Hubei has started using CT scans to scan people for infections and confirm cases, rather than relying only on blood tests that can take days to complete and where the city of Wuhan has trouble obtaining data.
- However, the figures reported by China have already been treated with suspicion. Research has shown that the actual number of people infected was much higher.
- Experts also say that the diagnostic method is unlikely to close this gap.
- Other provinces in China have not made the same changes as Hubei, and the country has not yet updated its total toll, which means the exact national numbers are not known.
- Further information can be found on the Business Insider homepage.
Hubei Province, in which Wuhan is located, saw a dramatic increase of almost 15,000 new cases and 242 new deaths within just 24 hours after the provincial authorities changed their diagnostic method.
The Hubei Health Commission announced on Thursday that it had started another method of testing the coronavirus – using CT scans to scan the body for infections.
This would allow hospitals to identify patients and isolate them more quickly. Reuters reported the commission than to say.
The authorities previously used RNA tests, in which the patient's blood had to be drawn and tested for the coronavirus in laboratories.
However, the results of this method can take days and health authorities in Hubei have reported a lack of test kits.
They were also overwhelmed by the number of cases and potential cases in cities, including Wuhan.
However, testing new cases with CT scans – not blood tests – could be a less thorough method of confirming new cases. Testing with the old method requires confirmation by a laboratory test, testing with the new method does not.
The number of new cases on Thursday is 14,840, the highest that has been reported in a single day since the outbreak began. Two hundred and twenty-four new deaths are also the largest daily increase in deaths.
As of Wednesday, only around 30,000 cases had been registered in the province, which means that the number of cases increased by around a third within 24 hours.
(For the latest case numbers and death toll, see Business Insider's live updates.)
If the officials had only used the old blood test method on Thursday, they would have recorded 1,508 new cases. Reuters reported,
The authorities indicated that 13,332 of the new cases were "clinically diagnosed" – which means the new method – that resulted in 1,508.
The number of new cases increased as the rate of new infections appeared to slow. Wednesday in China recorded the lowest number of new cases in two weeks,
Since China first reported the novel corona virus, the accuracy of the numbers in China has been the subject of heated debate.
The suspicion of the country's numbers includes:
- Research suggests that a variety of symptoms are overlooked and there are actually eight times more cases than reported.
- A scientific model found that the number of infections was ten times higher than at the end of January, about a month after the outbreak.
- Other research suggests that China is unable to test enough people in Wuhan for the virus and that 19 times more people are infected than recorded.
- Allegations of cover-up by Chinese authorities aimed at doctors and journalists who had warned of the virus in the early days.
- Another Chinese province suspected Reduction in the number of confirmed casesAfter deciding that individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus but showed no symptoms were not counted.
Other provinces in China have not changed diagnostic methods as much as Hubei, and the national health authority has – unusually – not released an updated total for the country on Thursday.
Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College in London, reported The New York Times Wednesday: "It is pretty clear that there is a problem with the trust that the Chinese government is currently bringing out."
"It can be terribly unfair," he told The Times. But "redefining things – even if it's legitimate – at a moment like this is always a challenge for presentations because people are very sensitive and suspect there is another agenda," he said.
On Wednesday the World Health Organization also did warns against drawing conclusions from numbers, even if they are correct,
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group's leader, said that any apparent slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus should be viewed with "extreme caution".
The ruling Communist Party has also removed and demoted a number of officials, from high-ranking politicians to subordinate health officials, and accused many of not adequately containing the spread of the outbreak.
With these new figures from Hubei, the corona virus has killed more than 1,350 people and infected over 60,000 people worldwide. While the vast majority of cases are in China, the coronavirus has also spread to at least 25 other countries.