(A pedestrian wears a plastic bag at Beijing's main train station on Feb. 11, 2020.)
BEIJING - China's daily death toll from a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus has topped 200 for the first time, bringing the total on the mainland to 1,355, according to data released by local health authorities on Thursday.
The authorities in worst-hit Hubei Province said the number of people infected with the virus there jumped by 14,840 after changing their diagnostic criteria to bring them into line with national ones.
The largest daily increase during the outbreak has brought the total number of infections on the mainland close to 60,000. The number of new deaths reported in Hubei came to 242.
As the coronavirus outbreak has dragged down business activities in China, President Xi Jinping's government pledged at a meeting on Wednesday that it will make efforts to shore up the world's second-largest economy while taking measures to contain the virus' spread.
In another development, the Chinese Communist Party, led by Xi, has replaced Jiang Chaoliang as secretary of its Hubei Provincial Committee with Ying Yong, former Shanghai mayor, state-run media reported Thursday.
Jiang has been effectively fired as local party head amid criticism about shortcomings in its initial response to the outbreak, which has been increasing worldwide, pundits say.
The Chinese economy has already faced downward pressure against the backdrop of a tit-for-tat tariff trade war with the United States.
Meanwhile, a Formula One motor race scheduled to be held in China in April has been postponed due to the epidemic, according to the International Automobile Federation.
The Chinese Grand Prix was to have taken place in Shanghai from April 17 to 19. The motor race governing body, in its announcement on Wednesday, did not provide a new schedule.
Global business events scheduled outside China have also been affected by the outbreak, with the Mobile World Congress scheduled to be held in Spain's Barcelona later this month now canceled.
The world's largest annual gathering of the mobile communications industry was called off after major companies such as Sony Corp. and Rakuten Inc. withdrew their participation, citing public health concerns surrounding the virus outbreak.
Outside mainland China, over 500 cases have been reported, including in other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, with one death in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.