The epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, China’s Hubei province, has increased the number of new cases it detected on Feb. 19 by 122 percent. According to Reuters, provincial authorities decided on Friday to revise the number from 349 cases to 775 after agreeing to add back some cases to their tally—after adjusting their methodology to count only cases that were detected with genetic tests. Officials later concluded on Friday that it was a mistake to have removed cases that were detected with CT scans and were already counted. The decision came as a new JAMA Network study showed that the deadly virus may be spreading even before symptoms develop. Of the five patients the study followed since January 2020, four of them developed the coronavirus even though none of the patients had visited Wuhan or been in contact with anybody who traveled to Wuhan.
World health officials said Friday the outbreak has hit 26 counties, including in Iran, where health officials confirmed 18 new cases and four deaths in just two days, according to CNBC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Friday that U.S. health officials are preparing for the outbreak to become a pandemic. It has killed at least 2,249 people and sickened more than 76,700 worldwide. “We’re not seeing community spread here in the United States, yet, but it’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said. “Our goal continues to be to slowing the introduction of the virus into the U.S. This buys us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possibly sustained spread.”