By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Since the start of the New Year, most of the medical world – including the World Health Organization (WHO) – has been preoccupied with the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus officially known as COVID-19.
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On Friday, China announced 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths in the past 24 hours, The New York Times reported. In addition, Beijing said that 1,716 health workers have contracted the virus and six of them have died. “It was the first time officials have disclosed the number,” the Times noted.
Authorities said “a total of 63,851 people had been infected by the coronavirus and at least 1,380 had been killed by the disease” in China. “Most of the cases occurred in Hubei, the center of the outbreak, which recorded 4,823 new cases and 116 deaths over the same [24-hour] period.”
Chinese Authorities Have Adjusted Their Criteria for Counting New Coronavirus Cases
The large jump in the numbers from Thursday to Friday occurred after Chinese authorities adjusted their criteria for counting new cases. The Times said, “The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.”
The continuing spread of the novel coronavirus has pushed the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the top spot in the world’s health news.
Ebola Has Killed More than 2,200 People in the DRC
To date, Ebola has killed more than 2,200 people in the DRC. That’s 830 more than the current worldwide death toll attributed to COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the WHO announced an extension of the international emergency status of the Ebola outbreak.
WHO Director General Dr. Tudors Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he will accept the UN agency's Emergency Committee's advice that the Ebola outbreak continues to be “a public health emergency of international concern.”
“Now is the time for the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of the DRC,” Dr. Tedros said, “not to impose punitive and counter-productive restrictions that will only serve to isolate DRC.”
At a news conference in Geneva that day, Dr. Tedros also noted the sharp decline in the number of Ebola cases, which he called "extremely positive."
WHO Director General Hoping to Lift Ebola Health Emergency in Three Months
The WHO director general said he hoped that the emergency could be lifted within the next three months based on the advice of the WHO's emergency committee of international experts.
But Dr. Tedros added, "As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic."