Beijing replaces officials in Hubei after coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus deaths hit highest daily toll

China has reported another drop in the number of new cases of a viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100 as postal services worldwide say delivery was being affected by the cancellation of many flights to China.

Another 14,840 people were confirmed to be infected with the virus, with the new cases and deaths by far the biggest one-day increases since the crisis began.

China had reported its lowest number of new cases in a fortnight on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction", World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

"The reason the Chinese health authorities made a decision to change the diagnostic procedure by including the clinical diagnosis, I assume, is because they lack diagnostic kits, delaying treatment of those with symptoms. However, all the other provinces have reported less than 10 deaths and several hundreds of cases". All but two deaths from the disease, now officially named COVID-19, occurred in mainland China.

In its guidance for hospitals, the CDC also warns that "in the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected". In all, 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive.

Academics in China, angered by the silencing of a whistleblower doctor who tried to sound the alarm in the early days of the epidemic and later succumbed to the disease himself, have also signed a public petition to "demand free speech", the South China Morning Post reports.

Gottlieb pointed to Singapore, which has now identified around 50 cases, to make a point about the U.S., which receives similar numbers of travelers from China every year. "You would expect them to be identified earlier in Singapore" as a densely populated island, he said.

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"I don't trust the reporting in China, and I also believe that the China numbers reflect the most severe cases, so we're getting a skewed view of the case fatality rate and how severe this is", Gottlieb said.

"And. other provinces tested milder cases".

The Australian dollar AUD=D3 , widely used as a proxy for risk on Chinese assets, fell 0.22% to $0.6724, while the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 dipped 0.2% to $0.6453.

But he added that despite the "gnarly" headlines, the rise could be the result of a testing backlog being cleared over the weekend in Hubei province, where the virus emerged late a year ago.

Holland America Line says no known cases of the virus have been confirmed on the ship. Despite having no reported cases of coronavirus among its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, the vessel, operated by Holland America, has been turned away by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Thailand. Her supervisor told her to stop working and she is now staying in her cabin in isolation.

Hong Kong, where 50 cases have been confirmed, extended the suspension of schools to March 16.

Marinetraffic.com on Thursday listed the Westerdam as anchored at the port of Sihanoukville, where Holland America said in a statement Wednesday that the cruise would end. Cambodia later said none of 20 passengers from the ship who had been tested had coronavirus.

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