BREAKING Nigeria record first ever #Coronavirus case - FAAN
The National Health Commission reported 143 new deaths on Saturday with all but four in Hubei, raising the toll to 1,523.
According to AFP, the commission also reported 2,641 new cases of the COVID-19 strain, with the vast majority in Hubei.
The number however, was almost half those reported the previous day.
The scale of the epidemic swelled this week after authorities in Hubei changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to their tally.
Previously, they were counting only cases with a positive lab test result but are now also including those “clinically diagnosed” through lung imaging.
Officials said the change was necessary to ensure that patients get treated early amid reports of backlogs in lab tests.
The revision added nearly 15,000 patients to Hubei’s tally on Thursday, with the World Health Organisation noting that cases going back weeks were retroactively counted.
“We’re seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnosis is being made to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data,” WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Friday.
There were over 4,800 cases reported in Hubei on Friday and 2,420 on Saturday.
The number of new confirmed cases has been steadily falling outside Hubei, with 221 infections reported on Saturday.
A top Chinese scientist had predicted that the epidemic could peak by the end of this month after the number of new cases had fallen earlier in the week.
The WHO cautioned that it was “way too early” to make any predictions about the disease’s trajectory.
Authorities said Friday 1,716 medical workers have been infected during the outbreak, with six dying from the illness.
Most of the infections among health workers were in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, where many have lacked proper masks and gear to protect themselves in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.
The grim figures come a week after grief and public anger erupted over the death of a whistleblowing doctor, who had raised the alarm about the virus in December and been reprimanded and silenced by police in Wuhan.