China has reported 254 new daily deaths and a spike in new daily virus cases of 15,152, after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei as to how cases are categorized.

The total deaths from the more than 2-month-old outbreak as reported on Thursday stood at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases mounting to 59,804.

The change in categorization appeared to push forward the process to a doctors' on-the-spot diagnosis rather than waiting for the results of laboratory tests. 

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The sudden spike wiped out a glimmer of hope following two straight days in which the number of new coronavirus cases dropped.

China's has placed an unprecedented 60 million people under lockdown in an effort to stop the spread.