Coronavirus: China sacks Hubei party chief, Xinhua reports

Coronavirus deaths hit highest daily toll

Virus deaths in hard-hit Hubei surge by 242 in a day

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, has increased by 13,436 in one day as Chinese health authorities have adopted a new way to diagnose and ascertain the lung infection.

Thursday's spike came as Hubei officials said they were correcting previous diagnoses to include people "clinically diagnosed" with the virus, adding 14,840 new cases to its total.

China had reported its lowest number of new cases in a fortnight on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction", WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

"The reason the Chinese health authorities chose to change the diagnostic procedure by including the clinical diagnosis, I assume, is because they lack diagnostic kits, delaying treatment of those with symptoms".

Japan is one of the worst affected of more than two dozen other countries and territories that have seen hundreds of infections from the flu-like virus.

Those delays could be significant, with some reports of patients waiting up to a week for their results, as the testing kits were sent from Hubei to a lab in Beijing. According to the Commission, the change means that patients will be able to receive treatments "as soon as possible" and be "consistent" with the classification used in other provinces. In all, 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive.

"I think that we should be leaning in very aggressively to broaden diagnostic screening right now, particularly in communities where there was a lot of immigration, where these outbreaks could emerge, to identify them early enough that they'll be small enough that we can intervene to prevent more epidemic spread in this country", he said. Across mainland China, the total number was nearly 60,000.

Businesses in Wuhan have been told to remain closed until at least February 21.

But it has faced continued scepticism among the global public, and U.S. officials have also called for more openness from China's Communist Party rulers, leading to fears that there may be similarities with the way it dealt with SARS.

In Russia, only two cases of COVID-19 have been reported.

But he added that despite the "gnarly" headlines, the rise could be the result of a testing backlog being cleared over the weekend in Hubei province, where the virus emerged late past year.

President Xi Jinping has said stronger measures should be taken to contain the virus, especially in areas with severe or high-risks, as the fight has entered a crucial stage.

"We have reported the epidemic information to the World Health Organization, the relevant countries, and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions as soon as it is available, shared the genetic sequences of the virus, actively communicated with other countries in order to come up with responses", he said.

A cruise ship that was turned away elsewhere over virus fears has anchored off Cambodia, which is checking the health of its 2,200 passengers and crew. Also in isolation is a woman who was mistakenly released because of a mislabeled sample that hadn't been tested for coronavirus.

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