China reports huge spike in Coronavirus cases, deaths after changing Hubei criteria

Henrietta Brewer
February 14, 2020

The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,483 on Friday but the number of new infections in hard-hit Hubei province fell after a change in case definitions caused a massive increase the previous day.

They are treating the newly reported cases as adjacent to the normal count, which on Thursday tallied 1,820 newly confirmed cases in mainland China, for a total of more than 46,550.

The rise in China's reported cases on Thursday reflected a decision by authorities there to reclassify a backlog of suspected cases by using patients' chest images, and did not necessarily indicate a wider epidemic, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday.

The health authority said an accumulated total of 63,851 people have been infected by the coronavirus.

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 has led to the firing of Jiang Chaoliang as the ruling Communist Party chief in Hubei, just days after the province's top two health officials were removed from their posts.

Hubei authorities had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process.

Almost 47,000 cases have been confirmed globally, more than 46,000 of which were reported in China.

The village of Son Lai in Vinh Phuc province was quarantined after Vietnam's 16th case was confirmed in a 50-year-old man.

Meanwhile, Japan's health ministry announced Thursday that 44 more people on a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, have tested positive for COVID-19. The ship has been linked to 218 cases, making it the largest cluster outside of China.

"Clearly in Wuhan, the health system is under extreme pressure and so the first priority has to be the patient", said Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

Tedros also praised Cambodia for agreeing to take in the Westerdam, a U.S. cruise ship that has been rejected at several Asian ports over coronavirus fears.

Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to let the Westerdam dock after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam barred the ship over fears it might spread a virus.

The Westerdam was unwelcome elsewhere even though operator Holland America Line said no cases of the COVID-19 illness had been confirmed among its passengers and crew.

A CCTV reporter stands near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, February 13, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

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