Published: Fri, February 14, 2020
Economy | By

New coronavirus cases in Hubei fall as Japan reports first death

New coronavirus cases in Hubei fall as Japan reports first death

Experts believe the virus outbreak started at a "wet market" in Wuhan, the province's capital and largest city, late previous year.

The city, where the disease is believed to have originated late a year ago, reported 88 new deaths.

Thursday had marked the highest daily toll from the virus in China, with an excess of 200 for the first time, after authorities in Hubei changed their diagnostic criteria to include clinically diagnosed cases in their tallies. "We're a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese, these numbers are jumping around ... there was some surprise", he told reporters.

According to the report, 65,191 people have been infected with the novel virus as of yesterday, globally.

The latest death toll is now 1,368, and the total number of people infected reached almost 60,364 people according to the Center For Systems Science and Engineering at JHU.

A security guard stands outside a plastic tent set up to disinfect people coming in at the entrance of a residential compound, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China, on February 13, 2020.

The political shakeup may have been timed to match the change in reporting standards, so that centrally appointed newcomers could be perceived as taking control and fixing the crisis, versus local officials who are now shouldering the blame for allowing the virus' spread.

The appointments follow the sacking earlier this week of two leaders of the provincial health commission. Outside mainland China, there are more than 300 infections, with just two deaths - one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.

Health officials said that they looked into past suspected cases and revised their diagnoses, suggesting that older cases were also included in yesterday's numbers.

Meanwhile, another cruise ship, the Westerdam, finally docked Thursday in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, ending a two-week-long saga that saw the ship being turned away by Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines because of unsubstantiated fears that someone on board was infected.

Other passengers have been allowed to disembark from the ship, after earlier being kept on board as a precaution. No cases of the viral illness have been confirmed among its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, according to operator Holland America Line. Japan now has 252 confirmed cases, including 218 from a cruise ship that has been quarantined in Yokohama.

Dozens of low-level health officials across the country have also lost their jobs for failing to contain the epidemic, which is believed to have emerged from a market in Wuhan where wildlife was traded illegally.

A nurse tears up as she talks about the situation in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.

Provincial Communist Party boss Jiang Chaoliang was sacked as secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee, and Ma Guoqiang removed as party chief in Wuhan, state media said. 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.

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