China’s NHC reports 5,090 new coronavirus cases for Thursday

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus patients at the intensive care unit of a designated hospital in Wuhan Hubei province China

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus patients at the intensive care unit of a designated hospital in Wuhan Hubei province China

The total number of deaths from the more than two-month-old virus outbreak as reported on Thursday stood at 1,367, with the number of confirmed cases mounting to 59,804, health officials were quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"All guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been", the cruiseline said at the time.

The central province's health commission reported 116 more deaths and 4,823 new cases, the majority involving "clinically diagnosed" patients.

China on Friday reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new virus, as the death toll neared 1,400.

Many patients reportedly have tested negative even while showing clear symptoms of the virus, such as fever and pneumonia.

However, Beijing has been facing skepticism among the global public, with many fearing that there might be similarities to the way it dealt with SARS.

"So, in other words, in Hubei province only, a trained medical professional can now classify a suspected case of COVID-19 as a clinically-confirmed case on the basis of chest imaging, rather than having to have a laboratory confirmation".

Also on Thursday, 2,174 patients became seriously ill, while 1,081 people were discharged from hospital after recovery.

The CDC warned that it expects more cases in the coming days and weeks, including those among people who recently returned from Wuhan, the city in Hubei province that has been hit the hardest.

The 12 Canadians who contracted the virus on board the ship have been moved to Japanese health facilities, and at least three require hospitalization, Champagne said.

Local officials' concealment of the outbreak's severity and silencing of those who spoke up about it, including a doctor who later died from COVID-19, has sparked fury and demand for accountability across China.

"I think it's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now", Mr Ryan said.

Twelve fatalities came from other provinces, including two in Henan, and one in Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps respectively.

Dr Tedros also praised Cambodia for taking in the Westerdam, a USA cruise ship that had earlier been turned away from ports in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan despite having no sick patients on board. "So this increase that you've all seen in the last 24 hours is largely down to a change in how cases are being diagnosed and reported", said Michael Ryan, executive director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

The ship, MS Westerdam had docked in Cambodia. During the quarantine period, 218 people tested positive of the virus, but not everyone has been tested yet.

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