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Coronavirus infections skyrocket as China refines diagnostic methods

Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the novel coronavirus in Geneva Switzerlan Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the novel coronavirus in Geneva Switzerlan
Patty Aguilar | 13 February, 2020, 11:20

More than 14,800 new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in China's Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak.

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.

The change in reporting requirements has only been implemented in Hubei province, not the rest of China.

Russian Federation discharged a Chinese national from a hospital in Siberia on Wednesday after he became the second of Russia's two confirmed cases to recover from a coronavirus infection, local authorities said.

The sudden jump in new cases raises questions about China's commitment to transparency, said Victor Shih, a specialist in Chinese politics at the School of Global Policy & Strategy at UC San Diego.

The head of the WHO's emergency program, Dr Mike Ryan, said it was too early "to predict the beginning, the middle or end of the epidemic".

Without enough facilities to handle the number of cases, Wuhan has been building prefabricated hospitals and converting a gym and other large spaces to house patients and try to isolate them from others.

WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of "2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease" and China's National Health Commission this week said it was temporarily calling it "novel coronavirus pneumonia" or NCP.

A total of 42,638 virus infections have been recorded on the Chinese mainland.

The virus has had massive ramifications globally since emerging from the central Chinese province of Hubei last month, with many countries banning travellers from China in a bid to stop people spreading the disease.

The overall confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland has reached 44,653 by the end of Tuesday and 1,113 people has died of the disease.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan, where 135 people have been diagnosed.

"With the deepening of understanding of new coronavirus pneumonia and the accumulation of experience in diagnosis and treatment, in view of the characteristics of the epidemic in Hubei Province".

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the virus poses a "grave threat" to the world, with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying the virus could have "more powerful consequences than any terrorist action".

World Health Organization sent an advance team to China this week for an worldwide mission to examine the epidemic, where more than 44,000 people have now been infected.

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

Cambodia has agreed to let the cruise ship MS Westerdam, which has been turned away by five countries over fears that someone aboard may have the coronavirus, to dock and disembark its passengers, the Holland America Line said on Wednesday. Japanese officials on Wednesday said another 39 people had tested positive for the virus, taking the total to 175. The outbreak began in Wuhan late a year ago, and has spread throughout China, killing more than 1,000 and infecting tens of thousands across the country.

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