The Chinese province at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Hubei, reported a record rise in the death toll on Thursday with the death of 242 people. This is the fastest rise in the daily death toll since the pathogen was identified in December.
The total number of deaths in the province has gone up to 1,310. The previous record rise in the toll in a day was 103 on Feb. 10. The global health experts warned the epidemic could get far worse before it is brought under control.
The grim new tally came a day after China had reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by Beijing's senior medical adviser for the outbreak there to end by April.
But the 2,015 new confirmed cases reported in mainland China on Wednesday was dwarfed by the 14,840 new cases reported in Hubei alone on Thursday, when provincial officials said they had adopted a new methodology for counting infections.
It was not immediately clear how the new methodology affected the results, or why the death toll rose so sharply.
Results from Chinese trials testing a combination of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV against the new coronavirus are due in weeks, but experts say a vaccine could still be months away.