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China Reports Steep Rise in Virus Deaths, Infections

Lung scans now being used to diagnose coronavirus
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2020 6:48 AM CST

(Newser) – China reported a massive surge in coronavirus deaths and infections in Hubei province Wednesday—but that didn't mean the disease now known as COVID-19 had become much deadlier overnight. Officials in the province, which includes Wuhan and the surrounding area, are now using lung scans to diagnose the disease because testing kits have become scarce, the New York Times reports. Officials said that another 14,840 new cases were detected in the province and 242 deaths were caused by the disease, by far the highest one-day totals reported in the outbreak by far. China has now reported 1,368 deaths from the viral disease and close to 60,000 infections. Wuhan residents had complained that the shortage of testing kits made it much harder for sick people to be admitted to hospitals.

Before the change, the number of deaths and new infections had appeared to be leveling off. Experts say the shifting figures make it harder to track the outbreak, though they acknowledge that reporting probable cases gives a more accurate picture. "What has happened in China is that they have changed the definition of what the disease really is—now they are taking people who have lesser symptoms," professor David Heyman at the London School of Tropical Medicine tells the BBC. He says the higher death figure is "worrisome," but "if you look overall at the total number of deaths and the total number of cases, the fatality ratio is about the same as it has been." The Guardian reports that several senior Communist Party officials in the province were fired Wednesday, including the provincial party chief and the Wuhan party chief. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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