Coronavirus: 'Way too early' to predict end of outbreak, World Health Organization says

Coronavirus deaths jump 242 in a single day the biggest increase in history

The number of cases of COVID-19 has surged almost 10-fold from the previous day in China's Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The Chinese province at the heart of the novel coronavirus outbreak reported a almost tenfold increase in cases and deaths on Thursday morning, after applying new methodology as to how cases are categorized.

The 14,840 new cases in the Hubei Province were recorded because officials stopped using kits to diagnose patients and instead began counting patients who have been screened and identified by doctors, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, more than 300 health experts from around the world met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to pool their knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease and decide which research should receive priority funding in a bid to stop the outbreak.

It was not immediately clear how the new methodology affected the results, nor why the death toll rose so sharply.

There were 52,526 confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland at the end of Wednesday, and 1,367 people had died of the disease by the end of the day.

The world must "wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one", WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, adding the first vaccine was 18 months away.

China also replaced its top officials in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan.

Hospital Wuhan City Hubei Province China while the crisis continued to develop yesterday
Hospital Wuhan City Hubei Province China while the crisis continued to develop yesterday

Another 97 people died in China, raising the national toll to 1,113, while more than 44,600 people have now been infected by the newly named Covid-19.

Thailand said it was barring passengers from another cruise ship, MS Westerdam, from disembarking, the latest country to turn it away amid fears of the coronavirus despite no confirmed infections on board.

"This morning, just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment", Angela Jones, an American tourist on the ship, told Reuters.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama, where a further 44 cases were reported on February 13.

The move is the latest disruption to worldwide travel that has paralysed businesses and played havoc with major conferences and sporting events.

CCTV said 11 military aircraft including 6 Y-20 carried about the personnel and materials to Wuhan on Thursday.

Japan's health ministry says 218 of the 3,500 people on board have tested positive for the virus.

The Mobile World Congress, a telecoms industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, has been canceled after an exodus of exhibitors.

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