The epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province in China is now changing the way it counts coronavirus infected persons which led to total cases jumping by almost 15,000 on Thursday.
Till now, the China death toll is at 1,367, up 254 as cases rise to 59,804. In Hubei, the infections have jumped by 14,840 as the death toll reads 242. Wuhan, the worst affected city is the capital of Hubei province.
On Thursday morning, Hubei province officials said they could count cases diagnosed through clinical symptoms such as a cough, and a chest scan showing signs of pneumonia. The new criteria allow cases to be added without a positive diagnostic test.
China has said that there are 8,030 severe cases, while 5,911 have recovered or been discharged. The Hubei administration has issued instructions that enterprises not resume work before February 20.
The outbreak and its handling has now led to a purge at the top with Jiang Chaoliang being removed from his post as Communist Party secretary for of Hubei. He was replaced by Ying Yong, the mayor of the financial hub Shanghai. At the same time, Ma Guoqiang was dismissed as party secretary of Wuhan, the city in Hubei where the outbreak originated.
The reshuffle follows a call to send top officials to the hardest hit province of Hubei -- comes amid concerns about early efforts to suppress information about the severity of the health crisis. Ma, the Communist Party's highest ranking member in Wuhan, has said he was full of guilt and regret for not acting faster.
The number of officially diagnosed coronavirus cases in Hubei surged by 45 per cent to nearly 50,000. The sudden spike reversed the declining growth trend of previous days.
The Hubei national health commission said it would now start including cases confirmed by "clinical diagnosis," which refers to using CT imaging scans to diagnose patients. Previously, many patients with pneumonia-like symptoms found via CT scans could not be diagnosed as positive without an additional nucleic acid test.