South Korea steps up measures as Coronavirus spikes

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He said Iran had in the past 24 hours reported five cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

He said the government was readying resources like sickbeds, medical equipment and health workers and warned the virus was now spreading locally.

As worldwide authorities seek to stop the virus from becoming a global pandemic, public health officials are hoping for signs that the arrival of warmer weather in the northern hemisphere might slow its spread.

A second coronavirus death was reported in the country Friday.

Most of China's cases have occurred in Hubei province, where the outbreak appears to have begun in the city of Wuhan.

Zhao Jianping, a respiratory and critical care specialist at Wuhan's Tongji Hospital, is leading a group of experts attempting to contain the coronavirus officially known as COVID-19.

Health authorities said they received reports of 889 new cases on Thursday, up from Wednesday's 394, bringing the tally in mainland China to 75,465.

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"We should clearly see that the turning point of the development of the epidemic across the country hasn't arrived yet", the Politburo said at a meeting led by President Xi Jinping and reported by state broadcaster CCTV. In Hubei province, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, clinical methods used for confirming cases will cease to exist and instead cases would be counted only when confirmed using molecular diagnostic tests.

The new virus is in a family of viruses found in animals that can, in rare cases, jump to humans.

But he voiced concern "about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to or contact with a confirmed case", urging countries worldwide to be "very, very serious" about preventing the spread of the virus.

"The global experts now in China to investigate the novel coronavirus outbreak will travel to Wuhan on Saturday", state-run Xinhua quoted a World Health Organisation announcement made in Geneva.

Chinese officials said this week that their drastic containment efforts, including quarantining tens of millions of people in Hubei and restricting movements in other cities nationwide, have started to pay off.

Many of the South Korean cases are centered in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city. A total of 2,077 people at the prison have been tested for COVID-19. But Tedros noted that there has been a worrying uptick in cases in Shandong province; he said the World Health Organization is asking China for more information about that situation.

"For an epidemiologist, it's really frustrating when case definitions keep on changing", Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong told The New York Times. Some 87 of the newest cases are also linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which has closed its branch in Daegu and others around the country.

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