The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China’s Hubei province has risen by 116, less than half the number of deaths reported on Thursday.
China’s health commission did not disclose the total number of deaths from the newly identified virus, named by WHO as COVID-19, which stood at 1310 on Thursday.
By Friday, the number of deaths reached 1491.
Of the new deaths, 88 occurred in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the flu-like virus is believed to have originated late last year.
A further 4823 cases had been detected in Hubei, taking the total in the province to 51,986. Over four fifths of the province’s new cases were in Wuhan.
The total number of people who’ve tested positive reached 64,418 on Friday.
The daily toll rose by a record of more than 240 on Thursday after the commission began counting cases diagnosed through new clinical methods.
Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death on Thursday, a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo – adding to two earlier fatalities outside China, in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
However, Mike Rya, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, said the sudden rise by 14,000 cases in China on Thursday was as a result of authorities “reclassifying a backlog of cases using patients’ chest images”, the ABC reported.
He said it was not necessarily the “tip of an iceberg” of a wider epidemic.
“Most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself,” Dr Ryan told a news conference at WHO headquarters.
“We’ve seen this spike in the number of cases reported in China, but this does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak.”