Losing Confidence in the Count

According to China’s official count, new COVID-19 cases are falling fast—but the reason could be shifting ways to count cases, infectious disease specialists suspect.

And they’re losing confidence in the numbers, writes Helen Branswell in STAT.

China broadened the criteria to count cases in early February—then reversed, deciding not to include asymptomatic infections.

“Every time you change the case definition, that then means you have a reset in terms of what you’re actually looking at,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy. The confusion, he says, “means at best you can get trend data, possibly, but not more than that.”

With that, we offer our best attempt to provide the tallies—with a correction for our own report on the deaths yesterday:

Latest Numbers (from NPR)

  • In mainland China: 75,567 cases: 2,200+ deaths
  • Outside China: 1,073 cases; 8 deaths (according to yesterday’s WHO situation report; we reported 9 yesterday)

More Developments (from NPR):

  • South Korea reported a sharp rise in cases—many traced to a church; infections more than doubled in 24 hours to 204.

  • Residents of Novi Sanzhary, Ukraine clashed with police and threw rocks at buses carrying 70+ evacuees from China to a quarantine site.

  • A Chinese prison in the eastern province of Shandong reported more than 200 cases; 3 prisons in Hubei province also report cases.
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