Published: Thu, February 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

China replaces Hubei, Wuhan party leaders

China replaces Hubei, Wuhan party leaders

"Thank you Communist Party".

With China's streets, restaurants and flower markets bare, a miserable Valentine's Day was expected on Friday.

Chinese authorities have changed the way they count infections from the virus - officially named Covid-19 - and the latest reports propelled the nationwide death toll to 1,355 and the infection count to almost 60,000.

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

The dollar rose and global equity markets slumped on Thursday after a new methodology that sharply increased the death toll in China from the coronavirus unnerved investors and halted a rally that had lifted US and European stocks to record peaks.

The public has widely criticized local officials for their handling of the outbreak of a new form of coronavirus. The death toll on the mainland rose to 1,113.

But it appeared in large part to be due to methodology.

Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process.

Hubei province reported that an additional 9,028 patients that are suspected to have the virus.

After the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-2003, China promised to improve the way it shared information about epidemics, and put in place a new system allowing hospitals to report new cases in real time.

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In Japan, the Diamond Princess cruise liner has been in quarantine for days in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, as the number of confirmed cases aboard continues to rise.

The rise in cases comes as Chinese officials broadened their definition of confirmed cases.

But anger erupted in China this month after the death of a doctor in Wuhan, the Hubei provincial capital and virus epicenter, whom police silenced when he flagged the emerging virus in December.

Consultancy Capital Economics said the surge in deaths did not necessarily point to an acceleration in the spread of the outbreak but rather to a previous understatement.

Jiang Chaoliang, Hubei's party secretary, will be replaced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, while Wuhan party chief Ma Guoqiang will be replaced by an official from Shandong, Xinhua news agency reported.

A Cambodian health official says some 20 passengers have fever or stomachaches but they are thought to be normal illnesses.

The ship, which is still carrying more than 3,500 passengers and crewmembers, has 218 people infected with the virus out of 713 people tested since the ship returned to the Yokohama Port on February 3.

Passengers clapped and cheered on arrival at sunset. Also in isolation is a woman who was mistakenly released because of a mislabeled sample that hadn't been tested for coronavirus.

Tiny Singapore, an Asian travel hub, also reported its biggest daily jump in confirmed cases, eight new infections taking its total to 58.

As the figures soared in China, a troubling new front opened abroad as neighboring Vietnam placed 10,000 people under quarantine after six COVID-19 cases were discovered in a cluster of villages - the first such lockdown overseas.

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