Thousands of new Covid-19 cases in China as Hubei locks up people inside homes

The authorities in China’s Hubei on Friday morning reported that 113 more people had died from the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak until last midnight, pushing the country-wide death toll to at least 1380 deaths.

The rise in number of cases comes amid the city of Huanggang, hard hit by the novel coronavirus in Hubei, issuing an order Thursday to “…put all residential communities and areas on lockdown as the city upgraded virus prevention and control measures.”

“A notice issued by the municipal epidemic control headquarters said that starting from Friday, all residents will not be allowed to exit and re-enter their communities or residential areas as the city took the strictest and most effective control measures.

Daily necessities for residents will be handed out by the community committees, and purchasing services will be provided for urgently-needed goods,” state media reported.

This comes after another county in Hubei, Shiyan, implementing similar “war time” measures to contain the virus.

Tens of millions remain under lockdown in Wuhan, facing severe restrictions on day-to-day living.

Nearly 65000 people in China are now infected with Covid-19, which is said to have emerged from a seafood and meat market in the provincial capital of Wuhan in December.

It has now spread to more than two dozen countries, killed at least three outside the Chinese mainland and infected nearly 450 globally.

The spike of nearly 20000 new cases and over 370 deaths in the past two days has been attributed to a change in the definition of the disease to include “clinically diagnosed cases” in the list of the infected.

The term “clinically diagnosed case” refers to cases with clinical symptoms similar to those of confirmed cases before laboratory tests have confirmed or determined the infection.

This means that a suspected case will be clinically diagnosed – and added to the infected column of people — as long as the patient shows pulmonary lesions typical of the new coronary pneumonia following a CT scan even if they have not been given a nucleic acid test.

Only Hubei province – which accounts for more than 80% of overall Chinese infections – is using the new definition to diagnose new cases.

The WHO has said there’s no dramatic increase in the number of Covid-19 cases outside China.

The increase within China – in Hubei specifically – is because of the tweak in definition, the Geneva-based organisation has said.

Meanwhile, a total of 189 medical teams of 21,569 medical workers had been sent to Hubei to help combat the outbreak, according to the national health commission (NHC).

“To further support medical work in Hubei, more than 1,000 doctors, 1,681 nurses and 213 experts from 17 provincial-level regions including Tianjin, Hebei and Shanxi, were dispatched on Wednesday to 16 cities and prefectures other than the provincial capital city of Wuhan, such as Enshi and the Shennongjia forestry district, to assist with the local anti-epidemic fight, the official news agency, Xinhua reported.

Another 2,600 military medical staff were also sent to Wuhan on Thursday, Guo Yanhong, an official with the NHC, said at a press conference on Thursday in Beijing.

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