Coronavirus: Big jump in new cases, deaths declared as diagnosis method tweaked

China's Hubei province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, reported a stark rise in the number of new cases Thursday, dashing hopes that the epidemic may have been slowing down.

Health officials in Hubei reported 14,840 new cases, most of them in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province where the virus is believed to have originated.

The province also said another 242 people had died from the coronavirus Wednesday, taking the total number of deaths in mainland China to 1,367. It stood at 1,113 on Wednesday.

Across mainland China, there were 15,152 new confirmed infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 59,805, a significant jump that's sure to raise concerns about the true scale of the epidemic in China.

The total number as of Wednesday was 44,653.

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Rising number of coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess
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Rising number of coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess
Journalists work near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship sitting at the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. The operator of the ship said Monday that an additional 66 cases were found aboard. That is in addition to 70 reported earlier. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchors at the Yokohama Port, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials with protective suites prepare work around the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials with protective suites walk from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Passengers stand on the balcony of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Some banners are hang by passengers of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
An official with protective suites walks near the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Members of the Japan Self Defense Forces prepare the truck to connect with the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
In this Feb. 9, 2020, photo, a passenger stands at the balcony of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Japan’s health ministry said Monday, Feb. 10 about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Fire department members gather at the entrance of the cruise ship Diamond Princess which anchors off the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A passenger stands on the balcony of the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored at the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man with wearing a protective suit walks down levels of the qurantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64 . There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Members of Japan Self Defense Forces walk into the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Yokohama, Japan. China's death toll from the new virus outbreak has risen to over 800, surpassing the number of fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, as other governments stepped up efforts to block the disease. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
People wearing protective suits walk from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
An ambulance carrying passengers drives away from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, is seen anchored at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, is seen anchored at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Six more people on a cruise ship off Japan are found to have the new coronavirus, the government said February 9, bringing the number who have tested positive on board to 70. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
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The spike came after officials in Hubei province, hardest hit by the outbreak, started using new technology to diagnose coronavirus cases.

Hubei 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 the identification of organisms like viruses.

But it has now begun counting cases that have been clinically diagnosed.

While the Hubei health commission didn't spell out the new diagnosis method used, Reuters reported, citing the country's National Health Commission, that computerized tomography (CT) scans, which can reveal lung infections, are being used to confirm infection.

As a result, another new 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei on Thursday, up from 2,015 new cases reported across mainland China a day earlier.

The new diagnosis method will help patients get treatment as early as possible and improve the success rate of their treatment, the Hubei health commission said.

However, the new testing methodology is only being used in Hubei province, Chinese officials said.

Ahead of the newly reported rise in cases in Hubei, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday the number of cases of infection in China had stabilized, but it was too early to say the epidemic was slowing.

"This outbreak could still go in any direction," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva Wednesday.

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China coronavirus outbreak spreads across regions
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China coronavirus outbreak spreads across regions
A traveler wears a face mask as he sits in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A fourth person has died in an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, authorities said Tuesday, as more places stepped up medical screening of travelers from the country as it enters its busiest travel period. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A girl wearing a face mask sits among suitcases at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Travelers wearing face masks gather at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Staff in biohazard suits hold a metal stretcher by the in-patient department of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a novel coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Peatones con máscaras de protección en una zona comercial de Tokio, el jueves 16 de enero de 2020. (AP Foto/Eugene Hoshiko)
Health workers wear protective gear Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003, in Ward E3 of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Hong Kong's New Territories, where 24 patients were quarantined after seven of its health workers developed flu-like symptoms, although none have tested positive for SARS. According to a hospital spokesperson five nurses and two health care assistants working in the hospital's Ward E3 developed symptoms such as coughs, sore throats and fevers on Friday. Hong Kong's health chief, Dr.Yeoh Eng-kiong, said that preliminary test results showed patients' samples did not contain coronavirus that causes SARS and researchers are trying to identify the cause of the illness. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Workers monitor screens for fever signs on passengers detected by infrared detectors at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk outside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: Chinese travellers wear protective masks as they arrive to board trains at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
YICHANG, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Travelers wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station in Yichang in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. China has stepped up the measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in China.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: A Chinese girl wears a protective mask as her mother pushes her on a suitcase to board a train at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Meanwhile, “war-time control measures” were announced Wednesday in the Zhangwan District in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province, northwest of Wuhan, where the epidemic is believed to have originated.

The measures, which include the closure of all buildings, took effect Thursday and will last for at least 14 days.

It’s the first time Chinese authorities have announced such drastic measures since the outbreak began. Those who defy the measures will be detained, local authorities said.

As China struggles to get the outbreak under control, top officials in the center of the epidemic are paying the price.

The country’s Xinhua news agency reported Thursday the secretary of the provincial party committee of Hubei province Jiang Chaolian has been removed and will be replaced by Ying Yong, the current mayor of Shanghai.

Jiang's departure follows the firing of two other senior officials in Hubei.

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