Beijing tweaks virus criteria again, toll now 2,236 - RTHK
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Beijing tweaks virus criteria again, toll now 2,236

2020-02-21 HKT 11:30
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  • A medical staff stands near the national flag in a temporary hospital converted from an exhibition centre in Wuhan. Photo: AP
    A medical staff stands near the national flag in a temporary hospital converted from an exhibition centre in Wuhan. Photo: AP
The death toll on the mainland from the coronavirus epidemic rose to 2,236 on Friday after 118 more people died as the authorities there revised their diagnosis criterion again, further muddying the data.

The National Health Commission said in its daily update that there had been 889 new cases. The number is up from the previous day when it reported the lowest number of new infections in nearly a month, which fuelled hopes that the epidemic is nearing its peak.

More than 75,000 coronavirus infections have now been reported in China, and hundreds more overseas in more than 25 countries.

The vast majority of the deaths and overall cases on the mainland remain in Hubei and particularly the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December.

The authorities there initially tried to cover up the seriousness of the outbreak and warned people who issued warnings over the disease. Some critics have also cast doubt on the data being provided by Beijing.

The mainland officials said on Thursday that they had once again revised the way it confirms infections and would now include only those diagnosed by laboratory tests.

It was the second revision in just eight days, a move that could muddle efforts to track the spread of the illness.

Health officials had last week said that patients from Hubei who had been diagnosed through clinical methods including lung imaging would be added to the count in addition to those confirmed by lab tests.

That led to a huge one-day increase in the number of confirmed cases – 14,840 – on February 13.

The change was blamed on a backlog of patients awaiting nucleic acid tests whose condition was deteriorating and needed urgent treatment. (AFP)