Coronavirus: 'Way too early' to predict end of outbreak, World Health Organization says

The total deaths from the more than 2-month-old outbreak stood at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases mounting to 59,804.

The number of newly-confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus has "stabilised" but it is "way too early" to say if the outbreak has been contained, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday as China's Grand Prix was postponed and a major global technology conference was cancelled.

First, health authorities revealed that cases in Hubei province, where the disease first emerged, had surged by 45% to nearly 50,000 after they included a new group of patients.

Health officials in Hubei province said 242 people had died from the flu-like virus on February 12, the fastest rise in the daily count since the pathogen was identified in December, and taking the total number of deaths to more than 1,350.

Local authorities in Hubei and Wuhan had already faced rare, uncensored criticism online for initially downplaying the magnitude of the outbreak.

Shanghai mayor Ying Yong (應勇) took over the top provincial post, while an official from eastern Shandong Province was appointed in Wuhan.

Using quicker CT scans that reveal lung infections would help patients get treatment more quickly and improve chances of recovery, the Hubei health commission said. "If that were not the case, the government could not have added so many new cases in one day".

The drastic jump comes after official figures showed coronavirus cases had dropped for two days in a row.

He said the Geneva-based United Nations health agency was seeking "further clarity" from China about recent updates to its case definition and reporting protocol for the coronavirus disease outbreak. Vietnam has confirmed 16 cases of the diseases, majority in Son Loi.

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As the coronavirus outbreak has dragged down business activities in China, President Xi Jinping's government pledged at a meeting on Wednesday that it will make efforts to shore up the world's second-largest economy while taking measures to contain the virus' spread.

It also followed the sacking on Tuesday of two top health officials in Hubei - Zhang Jin, party chief of the Hubei Health Commission, and Liu Yingzi, provincial health commission director - over their flaws in responding to the epidemic.

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

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"We have shipped diagnostic kits to laboratories around the world and we will continue to do so", Ghebreyesus said.

China on Thursday sent 1,400 military medical personnel to Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, official media reported.

"I don't think the numbers are necessarily manipulated for political purposes, but the numbers themselves may not be so trustworthy", Yun told reporters.

Although no passengers have fallen ill on board, the ship had been turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand over fears that someone on the cruise could have the virus. No cases of the viral illness have been confirmed among its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, according to operator Holland America Line.

Fever patients and close contacts of the confirmed infection cases will be placed under centralized quarantine.

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