China reported a dramatic spike in confirmed Coronavirus virus cases on Thursday as the health authorities are diagnosing the cases under a new method raising the total number of nationwide infections to nearly 60,000.

Chinese health authorities  said that the  Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly Coronavirus, has reported a record 242 new fatalities and nearly 15,000 fresh cases in a single day including 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases on Wednesday. This is the fastest rise in the daily count since the virus outbreak was first identified in December.

With this the total confirmed cases in the province has jumped to 48,206, raising concerns over the faster pace with which the virus is spreading in the province.

The Hubei health authorities said the adjustment in the calculation has been made to add those who have been “clinically diagnosed” with the virus in the daily tally. The timely standard treatment of confirmed cases meaning that  officials can use lung imaging on suspected cases to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.

China is yet to release the nationwide figures on Thursday.

China has sacked the top political leader of Hubei province, state media reported Thursday. Jiang Chaoliang, Hubei’s party secretary, will be replaced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which gave no additional details.

Jiang’s removal comes after Hubei’s two most senior health officials were sacked Monday amid growing criticism of how local officials have handled the crisis.

Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping has praised “positive results” from the government’s drastic measures to contain the virus as a top Chinese expert predicted the epidemic would reach its peak this month.

The number of confirmed cases abroad rose to 440 with one death so far in the Philippines. Japan reported the highest number of 203 cases with a majority of them from a cruise ship in which two Indian crew on board tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Another 44 people on board cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’ moored off Japan’s coast have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the country’s health minister said Thursday.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the 44 new cases were from another 221 new tests. They raise the number of infections detected on the Diamond Princess to 218, in addition to a quarantine officer who also tested positive for the virus. Kato added that the authorities now want to move elderly people off the ship if they test negative for the virus, offering to put them in government-designated lodging.

“We wish to start the operation from tomorrow or later,” Kato told reporters.

A 15-member team of specialists of World Health Organisation, (WHO) is currently in China assisting the local health officials in containing the virus.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday gave the official name for the latest coronavirus as “COVID-19” with no geographical association. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus and the ‘D’ for disease.

“We now have a name for the disease and it’s COVID-19,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” and China’s National Health Commission this week said it was temporarily calling it “novel coronavirus pneumonia” or NCP.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused alarm as it has crossed global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic.

Over 770 people had died worldwide during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before.

The deadly virus has spread to more than 25 countries.