China lowers death toll; admits 1,700 medics infected

Feb. 14 (UPI) — China revised down its death toll Friday from a deadly coronavirus by 108 while admitting more than 1,700 frontline medics have been sickened by the virus.

The China National Health Commission said it adjusted down the tally from nearly 1,500 due to “repeated statistics,” stating only 1,380 people had died since the outbreak began in early December.

The commission made the adjustment in its daily update, stating the number of confirmed cases was also inaccurately calculated by more than a thousand in the virus’ epicenter of Hubei province. The new tally of confirmed cases nationwide is 63,851, it said.

The commission said the numbers include 121 deaths and 5,090 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 over Thursday.

Among the new cases, 4,823 were recorded in Hubei, of which 3,095 were “clinically diagnosed,” a new term adopted Thursday by health officials to include patients in its daily tallies who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 but have not been confirmed sicken by the virus via blood test.

During a press conference Friday of China’s inter-agency task force on the safety of medical staff, National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin announced that 1,716 medical workers have contracted the virus, including six who have died, as of Feb. 11.

News of the affected frontline medical workers comes a week after Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, died of the disease after being punished by the police for spreading rumors online when he was attempting to warn friends and family about a mysterious new disease.

“Since the outbreak of the [COVID-19] the national medics put aside their personal interests, rised to the challenge and rushed to the frontline,” he said. “They made a great contribution to fight against [COVID-19]. They used their activities to show their spirit.”

Globally, the death toll stood at 1,383 on Friday, after a Japanese woman in her 80s became the third person to die of the disease outside of mainland China a day prior. Hong Kong and the Philippines have each recorded a death early this month.

Japan also increased its number of infected to 30 after confirming three more cases of the disease, including a 70-year-old taxi driver, none of who visited Japan within the two-week incubation period before the onset of symptoms.

Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato told reporters that they are investigating how the woman contracted the disease and whether the taxi driver picked up Chinese tourists who may have been infected with COVID-19.

“I think we need to do various epidemiological investigations,” he said.