Coronavirus outbreak hits 60,000 cases after reporting change

Enlarge / WUHAN, CHINA – FEBRUARY 13 2020: Medical personnel check the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (credit: Getty | Barcroft media)

Case tallies of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic appeared to dramatically spike overnight, rising from over 45,000 global cases on Wednesday to over 60,000 Thursday. But the startling rise of nearly 15,000 cases in one day is basically “an artifact of the reporting” officials at the World Health Organization explained Thursday.

Starting yesterday, health officials in China’s Hubei province—the epicenter of the outbreak—began reporting the “clinically diagnosed” cases that have been tallied throughout the whole outbreak, rather than only laboratory confirmed cases.

The difference is that now—in Hubei only—trained medical professionals are allowed to diagnose patients as being sick with the new coronavirus based on chest imaging, rather than waiting for lab tests to confirm an infection. The chest images can detect signs of lower respiratory infection in the lungs, a sign of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which WHO officially dubbed COVID-19, or “coronavirus disease 2019.”

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