Hubei Adds 4,823 Cases; China Virus Death Toll at 1,483

Chinese paramilitary police officers wearing protective gear transfer pails of disinfectant in central Hubei province

Chinese paramilitary police officers wearing protective gear transfer pails of disinfectant in central Hubei province

The National Health Commission said 121 new deaths were reported, making the death toll on the mainland 1,380.

The number of newly reported cases from China has stabilised in the past week but that has to be interpreted with extreme caution. The moves followed the dismissals this week of two leaders of the provincial health commission and reports from state media about a slew of others expelled from the party for missteps related to the epidemic.

"Based on the current trend in confirmed cases, this appears to be a clear indication that while the Chinese authorities are doing their best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the fairly drastic measures they have implemented to date would appear to have been too little, too late", he said.

Shanghai's Mayor Ying Yong attends a news conference after the annual session of the local parliament in Shanghai, China, Jan. 20, 2017.

The government explained the spike was due to a change in how cases are tabulated - the total will now include "clinically diagnosed cases" - people who demonstrate all the symptoms of Covid-19 but have either been unable to access a test or are believed to have falsely tested negative.

The virus is believed to have emerged late a year ago at a seafood market in the city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.

Ryan also pointed to "backlogs" in testing - and cautioned that an upsurge in case counts by almost 14,000 under the new calculation process did not mean that those would have all come in at once.

This brings the total number of infections on board the Diamond Princess to 218, which is the highest number of infections in one location outside of China.

On Friday, some of the ship's passengers were allowed to disembark - with priority for older passengers confined to windowless cabins - and complete their quarantine on shore.

The MS Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, docked in the Cambodian port town of Sihanoukville on Thursday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted the passengers with handshakes and bouquets as they stepped off the ship and boarded a bus.

The death toll from the coronavirus has well passed the roughly 775 people who died from the SARS epidemic of the early 2000s.

Vietnam has locked down a community northwest of Hanoi because of a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

The health ministry did not specify the nature of the respiratory illness, or specifically rule out the coronavirus.

The online newspaper VN Express says the man's daughter was infected.

The workers returned to Vietnam on January 17, and six have so far tested positive for the virus.

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