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Coronavirus death toll climbs past 1,350 in China, 5,000 new cases reported


China's National Health Commission on Friday reported another sharp spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and virus-related deaths.

According to the state-run agency, there are more than 5,000 new cases of the virus and 121 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,380, The Associated Press reports.

Hubei province — which is home to the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak — recently changed how it counts confirmed cases, which could possibly explain the increase of new cases. Instead of waiting on lab results, the province now goes off of a physician's diagnosis, according to the AP.

“I suspect but can’t be certain that the underlying trend is still downwards,” Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia in England, told the wire service. “It almost certainly does not mean that there has been a resurgence of the epidemic overnight.”

Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities in China are still on complete lockdown. The government-enforced quarantine affects nearly 60 million people.

In the U.S., there have been 15 confirmed cases of the virus, but no deaths. 

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said that the virus will likely stay for “beyond this season, or beyond this year,” as the disease has the potential to propagate in the United States.