Coronavirus: China reports 254 new deaths and more than 15,000 new cases

By Associated Press Reporters

China has reported a spike in the number of cases in the coronavirus outbreak.

It said there were 254 deaths on Wednesday from the strain of coronavirus, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation, as the number of new cases jumped by 15,152.

The large rise came after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei over how cases are categorised.

The total number of deaths from the outbreak now stands at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases rising to 59,804.

(PA Graphics)

The change in categorisation appeared to push forward the process to a doctor’s on-the-spot diagnosis rather than waiting for the results of laboratory tests.

Meanwhile, the leader of the province of Hubei, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak, has been replaced by the ruling Communist Party.

Ying Yong, a former mayor of Shanghai, will take on the role of the party chief in central Hubei of where the Covid-19 virus was identified late last year.

Two other senior officials in Hubei have been dismissed amid criticism about the handling of the outbreak.

State media also reported that a slew of others have been expelled from the party for transgressions related to the epidemic.

People display signs in support of Wuhan (Ted Shaffrey/AP)

Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99% of the world’s reported infections.

In an unprecedented measure to contain the disease, the Chinese government placed the hardest-hit cities — home to more than 60 million people — under lockdown.

China’s ambassador to the UN said Beijing “is confident that it is capable of winning the fight” against the new virus.

Zhang Jun told a UN meeting in New York that China’s confidence has been further boosted by the decline of new confirmed cases in regions beyond Hubei province for eight consecutive days, and the significant rise in cured cases to more than 5,000.

Masked passengers are seen on the deck of the Diamond Princess docked at Yokohama port (Yu Nakajima/AP)

He called on the international community to maintain solidarity, increase sharing of information, experience and technology, “and work with the Chinese government and people to jointly meet the challenges”.

The Chinese ambassador stressed the need for mutual trust, saying people everywhere must “oppose politicisation of health issues and leave no breeding ground or space for any racist comments, discrimination or stigma”.

Authorities in Japan have said 44 more people on a quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for Covid-19.

The country’s health ministry said 218 people of the 713 tested on board the Diamond Princess have been infected by the virus.

The ship, which is still carrying more than 3,500 passengers and crew members, returned to the Yokohama Port on February 3 and has been in quarantine since.