US cases hit 15; China reporting methods under scrutiny

US cases hit 15; China reporting methods under scrutiny


Confirmed coronavirus cases boomed this week as China altered its method for counting amid concerns over its handling of the crisis. 

Thursday, U.S. health officials confirmed a 15th U.S. case.

The death toll from the coronavirus that surfaced in China late last year rose to 1,370 on Thursday. All but three of the deaths have been in mainland China.

China previously counted cases only when a person tested positive for the virus. Chest imaging and other medical diagnoses are now included.

“While this may be a sensitive technique to look for an infection with the new coronavirus, it may also identify patients with other, similar viral illnesses, including the flu, artificially inflating the actual number of cases,” said Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Glatter said the coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, is proving difficult to contain.

“The lack of reliable information combined with a highly transmissible virus is problematic, to say the very least,” Glatter said. “Relying on health care providers to report cases – using clinical suspicion along with CT scans with certain patterns of lung inflammation – as ‘positive’ is not an ideal approach.”


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