Hubei Province Party Secretary Relieved of Duty

China virus death toll tops 1,100 as new infections fall

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. As of Thursday afternoon, Hubei had reported 48,206 infections and 1,310 deaths.

- Chinese health authorities said that a total of 5,911 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospital after recovery by the end of Wednesday, with Wednesday witnessing 1,171 people walk out of hospital after recovery.

But it has begun using quicker computerised tomography (CT) scans, which reveal lung infections, the Hubei health commission said, to confirm virus cases and isolate them faster.

Another evacuee was diagnosed with the virus earlier this week, but CDC officials said it appeared the two had been separately exposed to the virus in China before arriving in the United States.

A jump in the number of new cases of coronavirus in China reflects a "broader definition" of a case of infection, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday.

The total deaths in mainland China since the outbreak began in December stood at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases mounting to 52,526.

The new diagnostic procedure could explain the spike in deaths, according to Raina McIntyre, head of biosecurity research at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

"Presumably, there are deaths which occurred in people who did not have a lab diagnosis but did have a CT".

"It is important that these also be counted".

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters five of the patients who were already sent to hospitals for isolation and treatment have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.

The WHO also tweeted the new name for the disease in this February 12 post: "We now have a name for the #2019nCoV disease: COVID-19".

In an unprecedented measure to contain the disease, recently named COVID-19, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities - home to more than 60 million - under lockdown.

Tests have been taking place to see whether antiviral drugs used to treat HIV are effective against the coronavirus - however, results are only expected in a few weeks.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast.

"Just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment", Angela Jones, an American tourist on the ship, told Reuters.

Even though no one on board has fallen ill, the ship was denied permission to dock by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand. "I thought: Is this real?" Vietnam has confirmed 16 cases of the diseases, a lot of them in Son Loi.

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