Coronavirus death toll in China rises to 1,483

Laverne Higgins
February 14, 2020

China's coronavirus outbreak showed no sign of peaking with health authorities on Friday reporting more than 5,000 new cases, while passengers on a cruise ship blocked from five countries due to virus fears finally disembarked in Cambodia.

The announcement of the new death toll comes after China said Wednesday that the number of new cases had slowed for a second consecutive day.

A surge in China's reported cases on Thursday reflected a decision by authorities to reclassify suspected cases as confirmed by using patients' chest scans, and did not indicate a wider epidemic, the World Health Organization said.

Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician's diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests.

The official Xinhua news agency says former Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong will replace Jiang, who had been criticized by the public for his handling of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The WHO said the numbers included cases going back weeks. It was the third reported death outside of mainland China.

The death toll from the coronavirus is higher than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, which is believed to have killed 774 people and sickened almost 8,100 in China and Hong Kong.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country.

Two Indians confirmed with coronavirus in Japans quarantined cruise ship
The ship will remain in port for several days for disembarkation, and passengers will be allowed to go ashore, the company said. Despite the anxiety on board, one passenger praised the Italian captain for keeping stress levels manageable aboard the ship.

On Thursday Japan announced its first coronavirus death - a woman in her 80s who lived in Kanagawa, south-west of Tokyo.

The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them Thursday. Hong Kong and the Philippines have each reported one. The ship has 218 infections among its 3,700 passengers and crew.

The sharp one-day increase "does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak", said Michael Ryan, head of the WHO's health emergencies program.

China will grow at its slowest rate since the global financial crisis this quarter, according to a Reuters poll of economists who said the downturn would be short-lived if the outbreak was contained.

Forty-four more passengers aboard the Diamond Princess have tested positive as the cruise ship remains docked and quarantined near Yokohama, Japan.

The outbreak of COVID-19 started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early December.

The outbreak has led to the firing of Jiang Chaoliang as the ruling Communist Party chief in Hubei, just days after the province's top two health officials were removed from their posts.

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