Death toll in China coronavirus outbreak rises to 1,381

Confirmed new coronavirus cases near 64,000 in China

China reported a sharp spike in deaths and infections from a new virus after the hardest-hit province of Hubei applied a new classification system that broadens the scope of diagnoses for the outbreak, which has spread to more than 20 countries.

In Hubei and its capital Wuhan, where tens of millions of people are trapped as part of an unprecedented quarantine effort, 242 new deaths were reported on Thursday.

"It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure", World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters.

Case numbers in mainland China rise by 15,152, for a total of 59,805.

Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.

Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death on Thursday - a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo.

As of Friday, the number of reported cases outside of China were Japan (203), Hong Kong (53), Singapore (50), Thailand (33), South Korea (28), Taiwan (18), Malaysia (18), Germany (16), Vietnam (16), Australia (15), the USA (14), France (11), Macau (10), the United Kingdom (nine), the UAE (eight), Canada (seven), India (three), the Philippines (three), Italy (three), Russian Federation (two), Spain (two), Cambodia (one), Finland (one), Nepal (one), Sri Lanka (one), Sweden (one) and Belgium (one), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

In numerous initial reports on the virus, which said it was known to cause pneumonia, the statistics varied widely from source to source.

At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. It docked in the port town of Sihanoukville on Thursday. It had anchored offshore early in the morning to allow Cambodian officials to board and collect samples from passengers with any signs of ill health or flu-like symptoms.

Australian health officials tested a passenger onboard another cruise ship that docked in Sydney harbour for a "respiratory illness" on Friday, causing passengers to fret about the potential of another shipboard outbreak of the coronavirus.

Another 44 people aboard a cruise ship that has been quarantined for over a week in Japan's Yokohama harbor tested positive for coronavirus Thursday, Japanese health officials said.

Economists are scaling back growth expectations for the world's second-largest economy as they assess the impact of the outbreak.

After the extended Lunar New Year holiday, many migrant workers may still be stuck in their hometowns, far from their factories.

China will grow at its slowest rate since the global financial crisis this quarter, according to a Reuters poll of economists who said the downturn would be short-lived if the outbreak was contained.

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