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Earlier cases cause China virus spike: WHO

All NSW coronavirus patients discharged

A sharp increase in reported coronavirus cases in the Chinese outbreak epicentre on Thursday was mostly due to more than 13,000 earlier cases that were added to the tally, the World Health Organisation says.

The confirmed number of cases in China rose to 59,804 after diagnosis rules were changed for the hardest-hit province of Hubei so that lung screening results are allowed as the basis for confirming infections instead of laboratory tests that are used in the rest of China and abroad.

"We're not dealing with a spike of (new) 14,000 cases in a day," WHO emergency operations chief Mike Ryan told a press conference in Geneva.

Mass-testing of individuals in China, Hong Kong and Singapore has not revealed a great number of additional hidden infections beyond the reported numbers, Ryan added.

"That might give an indication that the 'iceberg' may not be that great," he said.

© DPA 2020