BEIJING: The death toll in China from the new coronavirus outbreak rose by 109, the National Health Commission said on Saturday (Feb 22), bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,345.
Another 397 new cases were reported nationwide, down from nearly 900 new cases officially reported Friday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 76,000.
The drop in new cases of the novel coronavirus came as officials in Hubei province – whose capital city Wuhan is the epicentre the outbreak – were ordered to revise figures to clear “doubt” around the data.
The number of new cases nationwide for Feb 19 was revised up to 820 up from 394 previously reported, the National Health Commission said Saturday.
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It also adjusted upwards the total confirmed cases for Feb 20 by more than 400 cases to 75,891.
The decision to amend Hubei’s past data, which was announced on Friday by local authorities, is the latest in a string of changes made to Hubei’s counting method – further complicating efforts to track the spread of the illness.
Last week, Chinese health officials added patients from Hubei who had been diagnosed through clinical methods including lung imaging on top of those confirmed by lab tests.
But on Thursday, Hubei officials backtracked the decision and deducted 279 cases – which they were ordered to re-add to the count on Friday.
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Asked on Friday whether the outbreak is at a “tipping point” after new cases and deaths from COVID-19, the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he still believed the virus could be contained, but added: “The window of opportunity is narrowing, so we need to act quickly before it closes completely.
“This outbreak could go in any direction,” Tedros said. “If we do well, we can avert any serious crisis, but if we squander the opportunity then we will have a serious problem on our hands.
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