The province reported a dramatic spike in virus cases Thursday, raising the total number of nationwide infections to almost 60,000 after Hubei authorities changed the way they count infections - fuelling fears over a lack of transparency.
Almost 15,000 cases of the deadly coronavirus were reported in one Chinese province on Thursday - a jump officials in the country said was linked to how they're diagnosing new cases, a report said.
Roughly 80 percent of those cases have been reported in Hubei province, with the epicenter of the outbreak in its capital, Wuhan, where the first cases were detected back in December.
Meanwhile, more than 300 health experts from around the world met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to pool their knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease and decide which research should receive priority funding in a bid to stop the outbreak.
The skyrocketing number of new cases in Hubei comes after health officials announced Thursday they had begun including people diagnosed using new clinical methods in official statistics.
It was not immediately clear how the new methodology affected the results, nor why the death toll rose so sharply.
The workers returned to Vietnam on January 17, and six have so far tested positive for the virus.
Hospital Wuhan City Hubei Province China while the crisis continued to develop yesterday
On board another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, 44 more people have tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship had been turned away by Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as the island of Guam, because of unsubstantiated fears the ship's 2,200 passengers and crew had been infected.
"This morning, just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment", Angela Jones, an American tourist on the ship, told Reuters. A total of 1,310 deaths have been reported from Hubei. "I thought: Is this real?"
The outbreak is also wreaking havoc on regional sporting events.
United Airlines said it would extend cancellations of all USA flights to China through late April, meaning all US passenger carriers flying to China had now cancelled flights into late April.
The Mobile World Congress, an annual telecoms industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, was cancelled on Wednesday after a mass exodus by exhibitors due to coronavirus-related concerns.
Professor Fisher, who works at the National University of Singapore, said: "It has spread to other places where it's the beginning of the outbreak".