Health Care

Coronavirus death toll nears 1400 in China, with 5090 new cases

Though the number of infections on Thursday was about 1,800, the lowest daily new infection record, the number of new deaths increased to a staggering 254, which is twice the number of the average daily death toll since January.

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.

Clinically diagnosed patients mean that they demonstrated all the symptoms of COVID-19, but have been unable to be tested, treated, or they had died before they got tested positive of the virus.

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.

Another 400 were infected elsewhere in Hubei province, the region at the centre of the outbreak which is under drastic quarantine measures.

Earlier, two other deaths from the virus outside of mainland China were reported in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

That first group of people will be tested for the virus, and if they test negative will be taken to a quarantine housing facility, the cruise line said in a press release.

"The increase in case numbers means it's very hard to contain the virus for now but the silver lining is we now have a clearer view of the real situation in Hubei", said Yang Gonghuan, former deputy director general of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"We've seen this spike in the number of cases reported in China, but this does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak", said Ryan.

Separately, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd RCL.N said it had canceled 18 cruises in Southeast Asia and joined larger rival Carnival Corp CCL.N in warning that its full-year earnings would be hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.

The online newspaper VN Express cited a senior official of Ving Phuc province as reporting an increase in cases in Son Loi commune. There has been one death each in The Philippines and Japan.

In addition, there are now more than 200 cases on board the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan - the largest cluster outside China.

The Diamond Princess has been under quarantine since last week, following word that a former passenger who had disembarked in Hong Kong had tested positive for the disease, known also as COVID-19. The ship has 218 infections among its 3,700 passengers and crew.

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

Another cruise ship, the Westerdam, finally docked in Cambodia after being turned away by several Asian and Pacific governments.



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