After Chinese health authorities adjusted how they're classifying coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the number of cases of the illness jumped suddently overnight, to 60,000 cases globally. The worldwide death toll is over 1,300.
Instead of waiting for someone to test positive for the virus via the lab test, officials are now considering cases to be confirmed based on their symptoms and a CT scan of the lungs. Authorities say needed to change the requirements to classify cases of the disease for two reasons, the backlog of lab samples that remain untested and the test itself was not accurate enough. Wang Chen, dean of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences said:
"Many patients who appeared to be infected with COVID-19 based on their epidemiological history, contact history and clinical symptoms were not able to test positive on the nucleic acid test and were listed as 'suspected cases'."
Chinese officials had pointed to the decrease in new cases being reported as an example that they were getting control over the virus, but the sudden jump in numbers has not helped relieve concerns. Public outrage remains and there is a demand for accountability from the government because local officials kept the true severity of the outbreak a secret and criticized and punished those who spoke out about it.
One of the good things that has come from reclassifying cases is that many who were turned away from hospitals because they have not 'tested' positive, will now be able to go back and be admitted and treated, but hospitals are still suffering from a shortage of available beds and staff.
Meanwhile, according to a South Korean news report, a North Korean trade official who returned to North Korea from China and was quarantined due to fears of the virus has allegedly been executed for violating his quarantine. The Dong-a Ilbo news outlet in South Korea reported that the official went to a public bath and was later arrested and 'immediately shot.'
In another case, an official at North Korea's National Security Agency, was ordered to a work farm because he had recently traveled to China and didn't tell authorities.
South Korean media has reported that North Korea has had several cases and deaths from COVID-19, but the World Health Organization officials say that to date, they have not been notified of any cases there and North Korean officials maintain that there have been no cases of the disease in the country.
Experts say that there is no way North Korea hasn't been affected by the virus, especially given that they share an 880-mile long border with China. Those experts say even if they had cases of the virus, the country is not equipped to deal with it.