China on Thursday reported 254 new deaths related to the latest coronavirus outbreak as the number of virus cases spikes.
The report of new deaths came as the number of cases rose by 15,152, according to The Associated Press, as China continues to grapple with the illness’ spread. Over 20 other countries have also reported cases of the virus.
China has now confirmed 1,367 deaths from the disease, with the total number of confirmed cases climbing to more than 50,000. Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines have also reported deaths outside of mainland China.
The high spike in cases has led to public criticism of the Chinese government for not quickly enough responding to the outbreak.
The jump in the cases reflects a “broader definition” of a case of infection, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Thursday, meaning that there are now looser guidelines in diagnosing the illness.
“It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters.
Fourteen cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S., though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday it expects more cases in the coming weeks and days as people return from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
More than 600 people who returned on chartered flights from Wuhan remain under federal quarantine, while another 195 were discharged from quarantine Tuesday.
Every person who has been in China’s Hubei Province in the past two weeks are considered at high risk of having been exposed to COVID-19, the official name for the coronavirus, and are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon returning to the U.S.