Virus death toll surges as China changes way it counts cases
SEE ALSO :Chinese pump Sh100m into projectsThis means officials can use lung imaging on suspected cases to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests. China has placed some 56 million in virtual quarantine in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, since late last month and restricted movements of millions more in cities far from the epicentre in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus. Xi chaired a meeting of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee on Wednesday after figures showed that the number of new cases had dropped for a second straight day. China has been praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its transparent handling of the outbreak, in contrast to the way it concealed the extent of the SARS virus. But it has faced continued scepticism among the global public, with suggestions that there may be similarities with the way it dealt with the 2002-2003 outbreak.
SEE ALSO :President Uhuru’s 2019 State visitsAuthorities in Hubei have been accused of concealing the gravity of the outbreak in early January because they were holding key political meetings at the time. 'Too early' to predict Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China's National Health Commission, had said on Tuesday he thought the outbreak would peak in mid- to late-February. But in Geneva, World Health Organization officials warned Wednesday against reaching premature conclusions on the Chinese data. "I think it's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now," said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.
SEE ALSO :SMEs reap big from China importsIt has also disrupted sporting events in China: motorsport's governing body FIA announced the suspension of the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, originally scheduled for April 19, due to the "continued spread" of the coronavirus. And this week's Singapore Air Show -- Asia's biggest -- was badly hit by exhibitors withdrawing and low attendance. Due to the impact of the virus, the OPEC oil cartel lowered its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year by nearly a fifth. Cruise ship infections Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country, as hundreds of people have now been infected in some two dozen countries. The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast. An additional 39 people on board the Diamond Princess have tested positive, raising the total number of cases to 174, while thousands of passengers and crew face a second week in quarantine.
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