Coronavirus live updates: Drop in new cases reported in China after change in diagnostic criteria Download the free app

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Japan coronavirus cruise ship quarantine ends

China has changed the way it confirms cases of the new coronavirus for the second time in a week, resulting in a lower number of reported new infections on Thursday. Three-hundred-forty-nine new cases were reported in China in the latest 24-hour span, the lowest number since January 23.

The National Health Commission said it was excluding from its tally patients from the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, who were clinically diagnosed by using a CT scan and an assessment of symptoms. Authorities said nucleic acid tests, which can take days to process in a lab, were the preferred diagnostic method.

This photo taken on February 19, 2020 shows a laboratory technician testing samples of virus at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province. STR

One-hundred-fourteen new coronavirus deaths were reported in China Thursday, bringing the total national death toll to 2,118, with 74,576 confirmed cases.

South Korea reported its first death from the virus Thursday.

More than 75,000 people have been infected globally.

New Updates Updated 33m ago

Weather and protests hamper Ukraine quarantine efforts

Ukraine's effort to evacuate more than 70 people from China over the coronavirus outbreak faced setbacks Thursday as weather conditions delayed the return of the evacuees and protests broke out near a hospital where they were to be quarantined.
Several hundred residents in Ukraine's Poltava region protested to stop officials from quarantining the evacuees in their village because they feared becoming infected. Demonstrators put up road blocks and burned tires, while Ukrainian media reported that there were clashes with police. More than 10 people were detained.
"The situation is rather heated," Poltava regional police spokesman Yuri Sulayev said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy weighed in, saying the protests showed "not the best side of our character." He tried to reassure people that the quarantined evacuees wouldn't pose any danger to residents of the village of Novi Sarzhany.

Associated Press

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Updated 7:37 AM

U.S. forces in South Korea who attended coronavirus-linked church to be quarantined

Any U.S. military personnel who have attended the New World Church in South Korea's fourth largest city, Daegu, since February 9 will be subject to mandatory self-quarantine, Gen. Robert B. Abrams, USFK Commander, said in a statement Wednesday. At least 14 people diagnosed with the coronavirus have been connected to several church services in the city, Reuters reported.

"I want to emphasize the care and well-being of our Daegu service members, families and civilians is a top priority of mine," Abrams said.

All non-essential travel to and from Daegu by U.S. service members will be prohibited.

"Good hygiene practice is the best preventive measure to controlling the spread of viruses. We must protect the force and our community by maintaining our "Fight Tonight" readiness!" the statement concluded.

South Korea reported 20 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

By Haley Ott

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Updated 7:01 AM

13 more people diagnosed with coronavirus on Diamond Princess cruise ship

Another 13 people on board a cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, the country's health ministry said on Thursday.

Confirmation of the new cases, from 52 additional test results, brought the total number of infections diagnosed on board the Diamond Princess so far to 634, the ministry said in a statement.

Agence France-Presse

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Updated 6:06 AM

South Korea reports first coronavirus death

South Korea reported its first death from the new coronavirus on Thursday while the mayor of a southeastern city urged his 2.5 million people to refrain from going outside as viral infections, linked to a church congregation, spiked.

The death of a previously confirmed patient in South Korea marked the world's ninth virus fatality outside mainland China. Other deaths have occurred in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and France.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the South Korean man, believed to be around 63 years old, died at a hospital on Wednesday and posthumously tested positive for the virus. It said authorities were investigating the exact cause of his death.

The center confirmed 22 additional cases of the virus, raising the total in South Korea to 104.

Associated Press

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5:56 AM

Change in diagnostic criteria leads to massive drop in reported new coronavirus cases in China

For the second time in a week, China has changed the way it diagnosis new cases of the coronavirus, resulting in a huge drop in reported cases on Thursday. Chinese authorities reported 394 new cases over the previous 24 hours, down sharply from the 1,749 new cases that were reported the day before.

Initially, authorities diagnosed the virus using nucleic acid tests, which could require days to process. There were also shortages of the tests.

So last week, Hubei Province, the epicenter of the virus, introduced a quicker method to diagnose new infections, which allowed clinical diagnosis to be made using CT scans and an assessment of symptoms. That new method lead to a surge of more than 15,000 diagnosed cases on February 12, sparking incorrect fears that the spread of the virus was accelerating.

On Wednesday, China's National Health Commission said it was removing that category of clinically diagnosed cases from its tally, sparking confusion. It said 279 cases would be removed from its reported number of confirmed cases in Hubei.

"Best practice would be to assign the cases to the date they are reported. This was also an issue with the large number of cases reported on Feb. 12," Allen Cheng, and expert in infectious diseases at Australia's Monash University, told the Reuters news agency.

By Haley Ott

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Updated 6:24 AM

Mayor of large South Korean city urges residents to stay indoors as virus spreads

The mayor of the South Korean city of Daegu is urging its 2.5 million people to refrain from going outside as cases of the new coronavirus spike. Kwon Young-jin also urged residents to wear masks even indoors if possible.

He expressed fears that the rising infections in the region will soon overwhelm the city's health infrastructure and he called for urgent help from the central government in Seoul.

Kwon said infection-control efforts focused on blocking the virus from China were inadequate to stop the spread of the disease in local communities.

Kwon spoke after the southeastern city and its nearby towns reported 35 additional cases of the new coronavirus, many of them people who went to church services attended by a previously confirmed virus patient.

— The Assocated Press

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Updated 5:21 AM

Indonesia to evacuate 74 people from Diamond Princess cruise ship

One of Indonesia's senior ministers said Thursday that the country is "committed" to evacuating the 74 Indonesian nationals on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Reuters reports.

The ship remains docked off the coast of Japan, although hundreds of passengers were allowed to evacuate Wednesday. Muhadjir Effendy, Indonesia's chief development minister, said the government isn't yet sure whether it will evacuate its citizens by boat or by plane, Reuters said.

A foreign ministry official said four Indonesians who were part of the ship's crew had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to Reuters.

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Updated 5:22 AM

Two former Diamond Princess passengers have died of coronavirus, Japanese media say

Two elderly passengers taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship because they were infected with the new coronavirus have died, Japan's Health Ministry said Thursday, making them the first fatalities from the virus-stricken vessel.

Japan's NHK public television said both were Japanese and in their 80s.

A Health Ministry official only confirmed that they had been previously hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases. The official spoke to The Associated Press anonymously, citing office protocol.

— The Associated Press

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First published on February 20, 2020 / 8:07 AM