Hubei extended to the entire province the decision to quarantine residential communities or buildings where new patients are reported with the virus after 13,000 individuals had a fever in Huanggang, a city bordering Wuhan and the second most affected by the respiratory disease.
The case of a British man who passed on the virus to at least 11 other people - without having been in China - has raised fears of a new phase of contagion overseas.
Health officials in China's hard-hit central province of Hubei reported 242 people died from the coroanvirus, COVID-19 , on Wednesday - more than twice the number of the previous day and the highest daily toll since the outbreak began.
Meanwhile, more than 300 health experts from around the world met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to pool their knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease and decide which research should receive priority funding in a bid to stop the outbreak.
Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days to process and delay treatment.
China's National Health Commission is expected to release numbers for all of China's provinces later.
Hospital Wuhan City Hubei Province China while the crisis continued to develop yesterday
CCP's Hubei Secretary Jiang Chaoliang (蔣超良) and Wuhan chief Ma Guoqiang (馬國強) were both stripped of their titles and will be replaced by Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong (應勇) and former Jinan Secretary Wang Zhonglin (王忠林), respectively. In all, 219 of about 3,700 people on board have tested positive.
"This outbreak could still go in any direction", said World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Also on Thursday, 44 more people aboard a cruise ship docked off the Japanese coast have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 218.
Although no passengers have fallen ill on board, the ship had been turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand over fears that someone on the cruise could have the virus.
"Just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment", Angela Jones, an American tourist on the ship, told Reuters.
China's aviation regulator urged countries to lift virus-related travel restrictions as soon as possible, but airlines showed no sign of easing their curbs on flights.
Hong Kong extended the suspension of schools till at least March 16 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the city, where 50 cases have been confirmed.
NBC Los Angeles: CDC Confirms Second Coronavirus Case in San Diego County
The new diagnosis in San Diego brings the number of cases in the United States to 14, with seven in California . The agency is now re-evaluating the test kits and working with state labs to correct problems, Messonnier said.