Beijing – China on Thursday announced more than 15,000 additional coronavirus infections. A record leap due to a new, broader definition of infection, depicting a more serious epidemic than reported so far.
However, this increase in the number of new cases “does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the epidemic“, said in Geneva the head of the health emergencies department of the World Health Organization (WHO), Michael Ryan.
“The increase you’ve all seen in the past 24 hours is largely due in part to a change in the way cases are reported.“he said to the press.
After initially congratulating Beijing on its “very professional work“Faced with the epidemic, the White House distanced itself on Thursday, through the voice of Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s chief economic adviser.
“We are a little disappointed with the lack of transparency on the part of the Chinese“, did he declare. “President Xi assured President Trump that China is in control, that they (the Chinese) will be open and accept our help“.
But “is the political bureau (the governing body of the Communist Party, editor’s note) really honest with us?“, he asked himself.
Forty was enacted for the first time in Vietnam on Thursday in a town near Hanoi.
Japan has meanwhile announced the first death on its territory of a contaminated person, an octogenarian. It is the second recorded outside of China (which concentrates 99.9% of the deaths of the virus in the world) after that of a Chinese in the Philippines.
In China, under strong pressure from the public who criticized them for managing the crisis, the two leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for Hubei Province (center), the cradle of the epidemic, and Wuhan, its leader – place, were dismissed.
They leave behind a difficult situation. The National Commission (Ministry) of Health announced Thursday 15,152 new cases and 254 additional deaths. These are by far the largest increases in 24 hours since the start of the crisis in December.
These figures signal an underestimation of the scale of the epidemic, which officially infected nearly 60,000 people and killed 1,367 people in mainland China. But paradoxically, they are not necessarily synonymous with worsening.
They are mainly due to a new, broader definition, of cases of infection by the health authorities of Hubei – which concentrates most of the cases (14,840) and additional deaths (242).
– “Pragmatic measure“-
Henceforth, the sick of the province “clinically diagnosed“are also counted. Clearly, suspect patients who have undergone a simple chest X-ray can now be considered as sick”confirmed“. Until now, a nucleic acid test was essential.
In fact, the number of new daily cases confirmed 100% by a test continues the decline that began four days ago: it officially dropped during this period from 3,062 to 1,820.
The authorities explain the new method by their desire to provide patients with treatment as soon as possible, a solution which has received WHO approval, highlighting an effort “adjustment“.
“Government recently redoubled efforts to cope with the scale of the Hubei epidemic and the considerable need for care by the population“, the organization said in a statement.
For Yun Jiang, a specialist in China at the Australian National University, the new methodology is a “pragmatic measure“faced with the lack of screening tests.
“I don’t think the numbers were necessarily manipulated for political purposes, but they may not be that reliable.”
– Fired –
Manipulation or not, the CCP secretary in Hubei, Jiang Chaoliang, was dismissed from office. He is replaced by the mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, reputed to be close to President Xi Jinping.
Wuhan’s main communist official, Ma Guoqiang, was also sacked.
Many Chinese have accused local authorities for several weeks of having delayed reacting to the first cases of the disease.
The figures announced Thursday contrast with those of the previous day: China had reported the lowest number of new infections in almost two weeks.
President Xi Jinping was also optimistic, stressing “positive evolution” of the situation.
During a meeting Thursday in Brussels, European health ministers stressed the need for better coordination in the face of the epidemic and to guard against shortages in the supply of protective equipment from China.
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said she was reassuring, saying that “all member states had action plans and a good level of preparedness“.
She also assured that there was “no drug shortage reported so far“, while several countries have worried about such a risk if the epidemic continues. China is a major producer of active ingredients, necessary for the manufacture of drugs.
– F1 canceled –
An American cruise ship, the Westerdam, has arrived in Cambodia where its passengers will finally be able to disembark. The boat had wandered at sea for more than 10 days, several Asian ports forbidding it to dock for fear of the coronavirus. According to the operator, no cases were detected on board.
On the other hand in Japan, the situation is still tense on board the luxury liner Diamond Princess, in quarantine near Yokohama (east): 218 people are contaminated, 44 new cases having been announced Thursday.
The fear of contamination led the organizers of the Barcelona World Mobile Fair, the annual high mass of the profession, on Wednesday to cancel their demonstration, scheduled to last from 24 to 27 February.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) also announced the sine die postponement of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, which was to take place on April 19 in Shanghai.