There hasn't been a "significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak" of COVID-19, global health officials said Thursday, even as China reported thousands more cases under new criteria that officials adopted, Japan reported its first death from the disease and the number of USA cases continued to climb.
China's National Health Commission said it had recorded 121 new deaths and 5,090 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on Thursday, taking the total number of infected to 63,851.
On Thursday, following the release of the new figures, Chinese state media announced that the party secretary of Hubei province, Jiang Chaoliang, was sacked and would be replaced by the mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong.
The government explained the spike was due to a change in how cases are tabulated - the total will now include "clinically diagnosed cases" - people who demonstrate all the symptoms of Covid-19 but have either been unable to access a test or are believed to have falsely tested negative.
The WHO said the numbers included cases going back weeks.
Only two patients have died from the infection outside of China, according to WHO.
While the vast majority of infections and deaths have been in China, in particular Hubei, there have been almost 450 cases in some 24 countries and territories outside mainland China, and three deaths.
Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have halted flights to and from the country.
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Japan reported its first death Thursday.
One patient in Hong Kong, three in Macao and one in Taiwan have been discharged from hospital after recovery.
The Chinese health commission vice minister, Zeng Yixin, said 1,716 health workers had been infected and six had died as of Tuesday, with the number of infected staff rising.
"Most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself", Dr Ryan told a news conference at World Health Organization headquarters.
The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast, where 218 infections have now been confirmed.
A Vietnamese health official wearing a protective suit amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak sprays disinfectant on a motorcyle at a checkpoint in Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc province on Thursday.
Wuhan has been hit hard by COVID-19 because the outbreak started in Hubei and spread locally.
Two of Hubei's senior health officials were also removed Monday.