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Coronavirus deaths, new cases surge in China

China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has reported a record rise in deaths, added to thousands of new cases.

Health officials indicated on Thursday that the big surge in casualties was as a result of the introduction of quicker computerized tomography (CT) scans which now reveal new cases of the  deadly virus.

Under the new diagnostic method, a much bigger crisis is gripping China and the rest of the world, according to figures released on Thursday.

On Wednesday, health officials in Hubei said 242 people had died from the disease, the fastest rise in the daily count since the pathogen was identified in December. That took total deaths from the newly discovered virus to more than 1,350, all but two in China and most – about 1,310 – in Hubei.

The spike in the numbers came a day after markets were cheered when China reported its lowest number of new cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by the country’s senior medical adviser that the epidemic could end by April.

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

But the advent of the CT scans, which reveal lung infections, has changed the calculus, officials say.

Following that, , another new 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei on Thursday, from 2,015 new cases nationwide a day earlier.

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