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China virus death toll nears 1,500 but new cases fall

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By Agence France-Presse

The death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,483 on Friday but the number of new infections in hard-hit Hubei province fell after a change in case definitions caused a massive increase the previous day.

Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road during a Lunar New Year of the Rat public holiday in Hong Kong on January 27, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road during a Lunar New Year of the Rat public holiday in Hong Kong on January 27, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The central province’s health commission reported 116 more deaths and 4,823 new cases, the majority involving “clinically diagnosed” patients.

The province, the epicenter of the outbreak, had 242 more deaths and over 14,800 new cases on Thursday.

More than 64,600 people have now been infected in the country.

Health officials in Hubei said they started to count clinically diagnosed cases to ensure that patients get treated as early as possible instead of having to wait for laboratory tests to confirm they have the COVID-19 disease.

But the change raised concerns that the crisis may be more serious than Chinese authorities have reported.

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