China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China has exceeded 1,300 people, with the number of confirmed cases in the nation topping 48,200.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said on Thursday that there remained three cases of coronavirus in the province but that all three were "clinically cleared", with a case in London, Ont. having been resolved with two separate negative tests, while the other two patients remained in isolation awaiting similar tests.

Meanwhile, more than 300 health experts from around the world met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to pool their knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease and decide which research should receive priority funding in a bid to stop the outbreak.

Authorities in Hubei have been accused of concealing the gravity of the outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on February 12 the number of cases of infection in China had stabilized but it was too early to say the epidemic was slowing.

Outside of Hubei, there were 12 more deaths, but the number of new cases fell for a ninth day in a row, with 312 extra patients.

"I don't think the numbers are necessarily manipulated for political purposes, but the numbers themselves may not be so trustworthy", Yun told reporters.

The province is at the epicenter of the outbreak. The change in categorisation appeared to push forward the process to a doctors' on-the-spot diagnosis rather than waiting for the results of laboratory tests.

The appointments follow the sacking earlier this week of two leaders of the provincial health commission.

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Jiang has been effectively fired as local party head amid criticism about shortcomings in its initial response to the outbreak, which has been increasing worldwide, pundits say.

Another 14,840 people were confirmed to be infected, with the new cases and deaths by far the biggest one-day increases since the crisis began.

The change in counting method will renew concern over the effectiveness the tests now used to identify stricken patients globally, and raise questions over the true scale of the outbreak that has killed more than 1,300 people, all but two on mainland China.

Tedros said a WHO-led advance team that traveled to China this week had made good progress on the composition and scope of its work.

There was a happy ending for another cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which docked in Cambodia after being denied docking rights in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have the virus, even though none had tested positive.

In an unprecedented measure to contain the disease, recently dubbed COVID-19, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities - home to more than 60 million - under lockdown.

China has been praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its transparent handling of the outbreak, in contrast to the way it concealed the extent of the SARS virus.

Hong Kong, where 50 cases have been confirmed, extended the suspension of schools to March 16.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan's port of Yokohama, with about 3,700 people on board.

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