– The Chinese province at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak reported a record rise in the death toll on Thursday under a new diagnostic method, and Beijing sacked two local leaders after criticism of their handling of the crisis.
Health officials in Hubei province said 242 people had died from the flu-like virus on Wednesday, the fastest rise in the daily count since the pathogen was identified in December, and bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 1,310. The previous highest daily rise in the toll was 103 on Feb. 10.
Reports in state-run media said provincial Communist Party boss Jiang Chaoliang had been sacked as secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee, and Ma Guoqiang had been removed as party chief in the provincial capital Wuhan.
The reports did not state a reason for the dismissals, but the two are the most high-profile Chinese officials to date to be removed from duty following the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan late last yet.