Hubei Province Party Secretary Relieved of Duty

Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus outbreak

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

China reported a massive surge in coronavirus deaths and infections in Hubei province Wednesday-but that didn't mean the disease now known as COVID-19 had become much deadlier overnight.

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.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction", World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva. The previous record rise in the toll was 103 on February 10.

The change in counting method will renew concern over the effectiveness the tests now used to identify stricken patients globally, and raise questions over the true scale of the outbreak that has killed more than 1,300 people, all but two on mainland China.

Outside of China, the count is 441 cases across 24 countries and one death.

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.

WATCH | Q&A: What is life like inside Wuhan? Ying worked very closely with China's General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) during his time as the governor of Zhejiang province, reported Reuters.

China has placed some 56 million in virtual quarantine in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, since late last month and restricted movements of millions more in cities far from the epicentre in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus. He has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party boss of Jinan city in eastern Shandong province.

The official Xinhua news agency says former Shanghai mayor Ying Yong will replace Jiang, who had been criticized by the public for his handling of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The outbreak began in Wuhan late previous year, and has spread throughout China.

Chinese authorities had been projecting optimism in recent days about the virus coming under control, pointing to a steady decrease in the rate of new confirmations.

So far, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.

Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process and delay treatment. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information allowing for identification of organisms like viruses.

Tedros added that the number of newly reported cases has stabilized over the past week.

The GSMA, which organises the annual show, set for Barcelona, said it was cancelled due to "the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances".

The online newspaper VN Express cited a senior official of Ving Phuc province as reporting an increase in cases in Son Loi commune. In Wuhan, people with symptoms like fever and coughing wait for hours in line to get tested.

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

Now, WHO officials are warning people that the numbers are likely going to spike as China changes its criteria for counting COVID-19 patients.

Another cruise ship, the Westerdam, finally anchored Thursday off Cambodia after being turned away by several Asian and Pacific governments. "In Singapore, we are at the beginning".

Hubei's two top health officials were fired earlier this week.

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