Residents wearing masks wait at a traffic light in Beijing, China Thursday, February 13, 2020.
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.
Up until now, they had been documenting cases using a more sophisticated laboratory test.
The first installment of 1,400 military medical personnel touched down in the city in central China worst affected by the ongoing viral epidemic on Thursday, the Chinese Defense Ministry reported.
The head of the Communist Party in the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicentre of a coronavirus, has been relieved of duty, the official Xinhua news agency reported. A team of health officials will board the ship to conduct health checks on the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members before they will be allowed to finally disembark.
"A virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack", Tedros told reporters in Geneva.
The death toll from the coronavirus is higher than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, which is believed to have killed 774 people and sickened almost 8,100 in China and Hong Kong.
The new classification system of COVID-19 was meant to ensure that "patients can receive standardized treatment according to confirmed cases as early as possible to further improve the success rate of treatment", according to the Hubei Province Health Commission.
Hospitals in Wuhan, China - the largest city in Hubei province and the center of the epidemic - have struggled to diagnose infections with scarce and complicated tests that detect the virus's genetic signature directly.
As of Wednesday morning, officials reported 44,730 cases of coronavirus and 1,114 deaths.
There is, however, still scepticism among the global public, with suggestions that Beijing may be concealing the scale of the problem the way it did during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.
People inside China and around the world have raised questions about the initial response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In Japan, 39 new cases were confirmed on a cruise ship under quarantine at Yokohama, bringing the total to 174 on the ship.
Dr Tedros, the World Health Organization chief, also praised Cambodia for taking in the Westerdam, a United States cruise ship that had earlier been turned away from ports in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan despite having no sick patients on board.
"We'd like to be able to predict the future, but we must be cautious", said Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO's health emergencies program.
The Mobile World Congress, a telecoms industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, has been canceled after an exodus of exhibitors.
Singapore's annual rugby sevens tournament due to take place in the city-state on April 11-12 would be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, a source familiar with the matter said.
The announcement was made just hours after Vodafone, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Britain's BT and Rakuten of Japan had pulled out, following in the footsteps of Intel, Facebook, Cisco and China's Vivo. Chinese officials said the method is only being used in Hubei, though it was expected to be gradually extended to other regions.
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