China reports major drop in new virus cases to 397

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China has reported a significant drop in new coronavirus cases after revising diagnostic guidelines for the second time this month, deepening suspicions over the official numbers.

"There still is a chance we can focus principally on containment, but it's getting harder because we're getting secondary chains of transmission in other countries now", said Dr. William Schaffner, a USA infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University.

Data showed mainland China had 889 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections as of February 20, up from 394 cases a day earlier.

China's leadership sounded a cautious note Friday about the country's progress in halting the spread of the new virus that has now killed more than 2,200 people, after several days of upbeat messages.

According to the AFP news agency, a 61-year-old woman who is a member of the church, regarded by some as a cult, came down with a fever on February 10, and went to at least four services before she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Researchers have reported sporadic accounts of individuals without any symptoms spreading the virus.

The number of people who have died from novel coronavirus in mainland China has risen to 2,345, with a total of 76,288 people infected, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

Daegu, a southeastern city of 2.5 million that is the country's fourth largest, emerged as the focus of government efforts to contain the disease known as COVID-19, and Chung promised support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment.

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In new diagnostic and treatment guidelines published Wednesday, health authorities said they would no longer count cases if the patient has not returned a positive result in a virus test. He also voiced concern about the potential spread of the virus in China's Shandong province, near Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak. Globally, the current confirmed total of virus cases exported from mainland China is 156.

Of the 142, 131 are from the fourth-largest city of Daegu and nearby regions, a lot of them linked to a church and a hospital in Cheongdo county.

"We see different patterns of transmission in different places", Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of World Health Organization global infectious hazard preparedness, said. All but 14 coronavirus deaths occurred in China.

Health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpour said two of the new cases were also in Qom and the other was in Arak, south of the holy city.

Iranian authorities were now investigating the origin of the disease, and its possible link with religious pilgrims from Pakistan or other countries.

Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said an astute emergency department doctor ordered the test because of the woman's recent global travel.

Tedros singled out Iran's discovery of 18 cases and four deaths in two days - and that a traveler from Iran carried the virus to Lebanon, and another traveler from Iran to Canada.

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