China on Thursday reported 254 new daily deaths and a spike in daily virus cases of 15,152, after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei as to how cases are categorized, The Associated Press reported.
The total deaths from the more than 2-month-old outbreak stood at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases mounting to 59,804. The change in categorization appeared to push forward the process to a doctors’ on-the-spot diagnosis rather than waiting for the results of laboratory tests.
In breaking down the large number of new cases in China, National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said Hubei at the epicenter had adopted a revised diagnosis and treatment plan aimed at accelerating the identification and treatment of virus cases, AP adds.
That adds a “clinical diagnosis case” classification to identify suspected cases who appear to have pneumonia so that patients can be accepted as soon as possible and treated as confirmed cases, Mi said, adding that should “reduce severe illness and mortality”.
China also replaced its top officials in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan. Former Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong succeeds Jiang Chaoliang as the ruling Communist Party’s chief in the beleaguered province, the Xinhua state news agency reported, while Wang Zhonglin will take over from Ma Guoqiang as the party secretary in Wuhan.
The high-level appointments follow the sacking earlier this week of two leaders of the provincial health commission. State media also reported that a slew of others were expelled from the party for transgressions related to the epidemic.
The public has widely criticized local officials for their handling of the outbreak. The virus first surfaced December in Wuhan, and has since spread to more than two dozen countries.
Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99% of the world’s reported infections.