The latest: 

  • China’s National Health Commission puts death toll  from coronavirus outbreak at 1,367, up 254 from a day earlier.
  • Case numbers in mainland China rise by 15,152, for a total of 59,805.
  • WHO seeking ‘further clarity’ from China on new case definition, which ‘widens the net’
  • Shanghai mayor to serve as top party official in hard-hit Hubei province as health official struggle to deal with cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus.
  • Vietnam imposes lockdown on community north of Hanoi amid increase in case numbers

A jump in the number of new cases of coronavirus in China reflects a “broader definition” of a case of infection, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday.
“It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters. He said the Geneva-based United Nations health agency was seeking “further clarity” from China about recent updates to its case definition and reporting protocol for the coronavirus disease outbreak.
On Thursday, the country’s National Health Commission said the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China reached 1,367 as of the end of Wednesday, up 254 from the previous day. Across mainland China, there were 15,152 new confirmed infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 59,805.
People inside China and around the world have raised questions about the initial response to the coronavirus outbreak.
China’s Communist Party has replaced the party heads in the coronavirus-stricken province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan, state media said on Thursday, reporting the most high profile officials to lose their posts following the epidemic.
WATCH | Q&A: What is life like inside Wuhan?New York Times reporter Chris Buckley answers your questions about what life is like inside Wuhan, China, the coronavirus epicentre.11:32
Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.
Ying worked closely with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter’s time as party boss and governor of Zhejiang province.
Wuhan party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been removed, Xinhua reported separately. He has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party boss of Jinan city in eastern Shandong province.
Officials in Hubei have been heavily criticized for their handling of the epidemic in a province of almost 60 million people. The outbreak began in Wuhan late last year, and has spread throughout China.
New diagnostic method introduced
The sharp increases came after Hubei authorities said they had introduced using a new, quicker diagnostic method using computerized tomography (CT) scans, which health authorities said had diagnosed 13,332 of the new infections.
The sharp increases came after Hubei authorities said they had introduced using a new, quicker diagnostic method using computerized tomography (CT) scans, which health authorities said had diagnosed 13,332 of the new infections.
The CT scans reveal lung infections, the Hubei health commission said, and enable confirmation and faster isolation of new virus cases.
Hubei authorities had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information allowing for identification of organisms like viruses. The NHC did not account for a discrepancy of one case, as it had reported that the total accumulated number as of Tuesday was 44,653.
Case numbers rise in Vietnam
Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99 per cent of the world’s reported infections.
In Vietnam, official media reported that a commune of 10,000 residents northwest of the capital Hanoi was put in lockdown due to a cluster of cases there.
The online newspaper VN Express cited a senior official of Ving Phuc province as reporting an increase in cases in Son Loi commune. Vietnam has confirmed 16 cases of the diseases, most of them in Son Loi. 
WATCH | Can coronavirus be spread by people with no symptoms?
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine claimed a woman who wasn’t showing symptoms triggered a chain of coronavirus infections. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains how the report got it wrong.3:25
Meanwhile, Japan’s health ministry announced Thursday that 44 more people on a cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, have tested positive for COVID-19. The ship has 218 infections among its 3,700 passengers and crew.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters five of the patients who were already sent to hospitals for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.
Another cruise ship, the Westerdam, finally anchored Thursday off Cambodia after being turned away by several Asian and Pacific governments. No cases of the viral illness have been confirmed among its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, according to operator Holland America Line.
Thailand refused to allow the Westerdam to dock this week after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and Guam over virus concerns.
The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the viral disease have been confirmed.