China coronavirus cases skyrocket by more than 1000 in 24 hours, 242 more dead

More than 200 people have died from coronavirus in China in the past day and the number of confirmed cases has risen by more than 1000. 

Health officials in the coronavirus epicenter of Hubei province confirmed 14,840 new cases on Thursday bringing the total to 48,206.  

The number of deaths from the virus rose by 242 to 1310, reports South China Morning Post. 

The health commission said it has changed the diagnostic criteria used to confirm cases, meaning doctors have a broader frame to determine who is infected.

Previously infections were confirmed by specialised testing kits, but these have been in short supply, so now cases which have been diagnosed by doctors are included in the numbers.

 "From today on we will include the number of clinically diagnosed cases into the number of confirmed cases so that patients could receive timely treatment," the health authority is quoted as saying in a statement. 

The coronavirus now known as Covid-19 originated in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei province late last year. 

It's thought the disease spread from animals to humans in a live food market. 

Since the virus broke out it has spread to more than 25 countries, but just two people outside of China have died from it. One man died in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. 

The virus causes fever, coughing, respiratory distress and pneumonia. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure and death.