China on Friday said it would reinsert previously removed cases from its coronavirus tally in the province at the centre of the epidemic after an earlier revision created “doubt” around the data.
The decision is the latest in a string of changes to the counting method used in Hubei over the past nine days — revisions that have further complicated efforts to track the spread of the illness.
Last week, Chinese health officials said patients from the central province who had been diagnosed via clinical methods including lung imaging would be added to the count, on top of those confirmed by lab tests.
This led to a huge one-day increase in the number of confirmed cases — 14,840 — on February 13. The criteria was not applied in other parts of China.
But on Thursday, Hubei officials backtracked and said they would again only include patients diagnosed by sophisticated laboratory testing.
Data from provincial cities was re-tallied yet again, resulting in a deduction of 279 cases after some patients diagnosed using lung imaging later tested negative in nucleic acid studies.
The adjustment has “created a certain amount of doubt around the data,” Tu Yuanchao, deputy director of Hubei’s health commission said Friday.
Hubei’s new Communist Party chief Ying Yong “attaches great importance to this and has clearly demanded that cases that have already been confirmed are not allowed to be cut,” he told reporters at a daily press briefing.
“All those that have been cut must be added back,” said Tu without specifying when the changes would take place.
Hubei’s count of confirmed virus cases saw additional adjustments this week, after 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday — including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities.
The new figures were among more than 500 cases of the new virus that have been detected in prisons across China, authorities said, prompting the sacking of a slew of officials.
Last week, Hubei officials also had to revise their death toll after discovering “duplicate statistics” caused by double-counting 108 deaths.