More than 1,300 dead as Chinese govt sacks top-ranking officials over Coronavirus outbreak
China’s Communist Party has sacked its two top-ranking officials in Hubei Province under criticism over the handling of the deadly Coronavirus.
China’s official death toll from the virus rose on Thursday after authorities changed their counting methods, fueling concern the epidemic is far worse than being reported.
The developments came hours after President Xi Jinping claimed “positive results” from efforts to contain an epidemic that has now officially killed 1,367 people and infected nearly 60,000.
But the World Health Organization warned it was too soon to declare victory.
“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.
Even as death toll keeps soaring in China, a troubling new front opened abroad as neighbouring Vietnam placed 10,000 people under quarantine after six COVID-19 cases were discovered in a cluster of villages.
In Hubei and its capital Wuhan, where tens of millions of people are trapped as part of an unprecedented quarantine effort, 242 new deaths were reported on Thursday.
Another 14,840 people were confirmed to be infected in Hubei alone, with the new cases and deaths by far the biggest one-day increases since the crisis began.
Outside Hubei, there were 12 more deaths but the number of new cases fell for a ninth day in a row, with 312 extra patients.
Hubei authorities said the increases were because they had broadened their definition for infection to include people “clinically diagnosed” via lung imaging.
Up until now, they had been documenting cases using a more sophisticated laboratory test.