Huge jump in coronavirus cases and deaths in China

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A medical staff member takes a sample from a person being tested for the new coronavirus at a quarantine zone in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, in China’s central Hubei province, February 4, 2020. STR/AFP/GETTY

Doctors in China have adopted a new way of diagnosing the novel coronavirus, leading to a huge jump in both the official number of deaths blamed on the disease and the tally of confirmed cases in the country at the heart of the outbreak. Officials in Hubei province, the Chinese region where the virus is believed to have jumped into the human population from wild animals, reported 254 new deaths and 15,152 new cases of the flu-like virus.

The increase brought the worldwide death toll to at least 1,359 and the number of confirmed cases to more than 60,000. Only about 400 of those patients, and just two of the confirmed fatalities, have been outside of mainland China.

The sharp increase came after two days of reported declines in the number of confirmed new cases in China. It was the result of Chinese doctors starting to use lung imaging to diagnose the disease, in addition to the standard nucleic acid tests they had been using.

The largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside of China, on a cruise ship that has been quarantined for almost two weeks in Japan, continued to grow Thursday. With 218 cases confirmed from the Diamond Princess, Japan’s government said it would allow some elderly passengers from the vessel to move into government-provided housing on land, where they would be monitored for symptoms apart from the general population.

For passengers on cruise ship, quarantine period “seems an eternity”
Some passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan are battling the isolation. As of Thursday, 218 people from the ship had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“We’re now into the second week” of quarantine, passenger Sally Abel told CBS News on Thursday. “It seems an eternity.”

The ship has been on lockdown in Yokohama for more than a week now. CBS News correspondent Debora Patta says it has become a floating incubator for the new disease.

“It’s getting people’s moods down,” admitted Abel’s husband David. “So life isn’t as easy as it was last week.”

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