Rise in new coronavirus cases in China reflects 'broader definition' of infection

Death toll in China coronavirus outbreak rises to 1,381

In addition China has reported a total of 46,550 lab-confirmed cases since the outbreak began in December, WHO figures show.

"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", he said.

In Japan, a first death - a woman in her 80s - was reported, the third fatality outside of mainland China, following deaths in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Of the almost 15,000 new cases, 13,332 were "clinically diagnosed", according to a release from the Hubei province's health commission, a lesser standard of diagnosis which is now being counted in the official figures.

The reports did not give a reason for the dismissals but the two are the most high-profile Chinese officials to be removed from duty following the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan late past year.

The sharp increases came after Hubei authorities said they had introduced using a new, quicker diagnostic method using computerized tomography (CT) scans, which health authorities said had diagnosed 13,332 of the new infections.

Hubei authorities have been criticized fiercely for not having responded to the deadly virus in the early stage of the outbreak, which, as of Thursday, had killed 1,368 people and infected more than 50,000 in China. Many patients reportedly have tested negative even while showing clear symptoms of the virus, such as fever and pneumonia.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters five of the patients who were already sent to hospitals for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.

Pressure has increased on the party after a nationwide outpouring of grief and fury over the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who was accused by local police of spreading rumors after sounding one of the first warnings about the outbreak of the disease now known as COVID-19.

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However, Beijing has been facing skepticism among the global public, with many fearing that there might be similarities to the way it dealt with SARS.

"Oddly, this now is a moment of greater transparency", Sam Crane, political science professor at Williams College in MA, told AFP.

BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology Co. said in a statement issued through the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it had successfully synthesized the active ingredients in remdesivir.

Yun Jiang, a China researcher at Australian National University, said the new methodology may be a "practical measure" because Hubei has a shortage of laboratory testing kits.

On Thursday, the leaders of Hubei and Wuhan were sacked, the highest-profile political casualties of the crisis, after the province's top health officials were fired. Ying was appointed mayor of Shanghai in January 2017 after a career spent mostly in the financial center and neighboring Zhejiang province, including stints under the future president.

"Outbreaks can bring out the best and the worst in people", Tedros said.

Other cities in Hubei sealed off neighbourhoods like Wuhan this week, with some citing "war-time" management to contain the virus. The ship has 218 infections among its 3,700 passengers and crew.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country, as hundreds of people have now been infected in some two dozen countries.

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

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