Hubei Province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported 14,840 new confirmed cases and 242 new deaths Wednesday, the highest daily increases so far, after the diagnosis criteria for confirmed COVID-19 cases were further loosened for timely treatment of more patients.
The Hubei Provincial Health Commission said Thursday the number of new cases included 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases, which now have been seen as confirmed cases.
The 242 new deaths also include 135 people who were only clinically diagnosed.
The latest report brought the total confirmed cases in the hard-hit province to 48,206. The province had a total of 1,310 deaths as of Wednesday. The provincial capital Wuhan, with 32,994 total confirmed cases and 1,036 deaths, accounted for the majority of the provincial tally.
The commission said the province now has 9,028 suspected cases of infection, after 3,317 suspected cases were ruled out Wednesday.
The province also saw 3,441 patients discharged from hospital after recovery as of Wednesday. Among the 33,693 hospitalized patients, 5,647 were still in severe condition and another 1,437 in critical condition.
Clinically diagnosed cases are unique to Hubei statistically. The inclusion of those cases drives the surge in the number of new confirmed cases.
Any suspected cases with pneumonia-related computerized tomography (CT) scan results are counted as clinically diagnosed cases, according to the latest version of the diagnosis and treatment scheme released by the National Health Commission. Experts said that would include those who had yet to be tested positive in the nucleic acid testing (NAT), which previously was the threshold for hospitals to receive patients and give treatment.
The provincial health commission said the diagnosis criteria revision was made to give those who had been clinically diagnosed the timely and standard treatment in order to further improve the treatment success rate.
“These ‘yet-to-test-positive’ patients could easily spread the virus in society. Categorizing them as confirmed cases will lead to quarantine and hospitalization, which would be good for both the patients and the public,” said Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is the right step to stop the spread of the virus,” Zeng said.