Overnight, the number of people confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus in China rose by a third.
More than , (new cases of COVID – 15 were added, bringing the total to over 332, , with more than 1, deaths, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE.
The word out of China was that the spread of the coronavirus Had not suddenly accelerated – but that technical advances had made spotting it more effective.
The surge was the result of adopting a new testing process, according to the Chinese authorities, using more sophisticated equipment to help spot when a suspected case was real.
But it is understood that health authorities in the center of the outbreak – in Hubei – have also started to use a wider range of symptoms as a basis for deciding who is a confirmed case.
Initially, the focus was said to be on those who showed signs of pneumonia. Now, it is understood those who show other symptoms of COVID – , the disease caused by the coronavirus , are also being included.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said: “It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure.”
He added that the Geneva-based United Nations health agency was seeking “further clarity” from China about recent updates to the way it defines cases.
The disease was first identified after a number of people mysteriously began to fall ill with pneumonia, in the Hubei city of Wuhan.
But, before pneumonia occurs, and in people who are symptomatic but may not develop pneumonia, COVID – 20 can often cause a fever, a dry cough and other effects.
Problems with the availability of testing equipment required to identify coronavirus emerged soon after the outbreak began to mushroom.
Science publications have reported on shortages of testing kits, with manufacturers failing to keep pace with the rocketing numbers of cases. It has also been suggested that Hubei suffers from a lack of laboratory staff trained to use them.