Virus infects more than 1,700 health workers in China, 6 die

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Virus infects more than 1,700 health workers in China, 6 die
A man wearing a face mask carries a Valentine's Day bouquet as he rides a scooter in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, Friday, February 14, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)
A man wearing a face mask carries a Valentine’s Day bouquet as he rides a scooter in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, Friday, February 14, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

(AP) — More than 1,700 Chinese medical workers have been infected by the new virus that has killed nearly 1,400 people and spread to other parts of Asia and as far as the United Stated and Europe, a senior Chinese official announced Friday.

Six of the workers have died, Zeng Yixin, vice director of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference.

The health commission is “highly concerned about this issue” and has issued guidelines for the prevention and control of infection within medical institutions, he said.

Medical workers account for about 3.8% of confirmed cases as of three days ago, Zeng said.

The commission also reported another sizable rise in the number of infections as a result of a new way of counting adopted by Hubei province, the hardest-hit area.

Confirmed cases in mainland China rose to 63,851 by the end of Thursday, up 5,090 from the previous day.

The death toll rose 121 to 1,380.

Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician’s diagnosis before they have been confirmed by lab tests.

Of the 5,090 new cases, 3,095 fell into that category.

The acceleration in the number of cases does not necessarily represent a sudden surge in new infections of the virus that causes COVID-19 as much as the revised methodology.

The health commission has said that the change was aimed at identifying suspected cases so they can be treated more quickly, though experts also saw it as a reflection of the crush of people seeking treatment and the struggle to keep up with a backlog of untested samples in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, where the disease first surfaced in December.

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