China sacks party chiefs at virus epicentre

1,113 deaths in China coronavirus over 44,000 confirmed cases

World Health Organization labels novel coronavirus-Covid-19 with over 42,000 confirmed cases

The yen rose from a three-week low against the dollar on Thursday after China's Hubei province, the epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak, reported a sharp jump in the number of new cases in a jolt to markets and sparking a flight for safe-haven assets.

The province also broadened its definition of COVID-19 cases to include "clinically diagnosed" patients, which results in a steep rise of 14,840 new cases. Five British citizens were diagnosed with the coronavirus in France, after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.

China last week amended its guidelines on prevention and control of the coronavirus, saying that only when asymptomatic cases show clinical signs should they be recorded as a confirmed case.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva that the numbers "must be interpreted with extreme caution", adding: "This outbreak could still go in any direction".

Hundreds of military medics will descend on coronavirus-stricken Wuhan to help tackle the epidemic as the number of confirmed cases worldwide surpasses 60,000, with the death toll leaping over 1,300.

Yun Jiang, a China researcher at Australian National University, said the new methodology may be a "practical measure" because Hubei has a shortage of laboratory testing kits.

"The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months".

Outside mainland China, over 500 cases have been reported, including in other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, with one death in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

Asked about Zhong's prediction, Australia's chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, said: "I think it's far too premature to say that".

In Cambodia, the cruise ship MS Westerdam was allowed to dock in the port town of Sihanoukville after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone on board may have the coronavirus. Authorities have restricted the movements of people in several other cities far from the epicenter in an unprecedented containment effort.

United Airlines UAL.O said it would extend cancellations of all USA flights to China through late April, meaning all US passenger carriers flying to China had now canceled flights into late April.

Under new reporting requirements, cases are considered confirmed based on symptoms and a CT scan of the lungs.

The latest big event to be canceled, moved or postponed was the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, originally set for Shanghai on April 19.

Two cases of the virus have been reported in Russian Federation.

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