Coronavirus: Chinese officials give virus temporary name, update swift uptick in confirmed cases

In a bid to head off the stigmatization of any particular regions or cultures, the Chinese government on Saturday announced a temporary name for the widespread illness known largely to date as 2019 novel coronavirus.

Following updated guidelines issued in 2015 by the World Health Organization, the virus will be referred to in English as NCP, for novel coronavirus pneumonia, The New York Times reported.

The move is intended to curtail any negative regional or cultural discrimination like that which developed with past names such as the Spanish flu or Rift Valley fever. The name also narrows the scope of the illness to distinguish it from umbrella coronavirus category, the Times reported.

To date, more than 34,400 people spanning 28 countries and territories have tested positive for NCP with the official death toll standing at 724, CNN reported.

According to official figures released early Saturday, 3,399 new cases were diagnosed in the previous 24 hours with 86 people dying in China on Friday, alone, making it the deadliest day on record since the outbreak began, CNN and the Times reported.

In response to the swelling diagnoses, a second makeshift facility has been constructed in Wuhan, China, dedicated solely to the treatment of NCP patients, CNN reported. The 32-ward, 1,500-bed Leishenshan Hospital, constructed in only 12 days, is expected to begin admitting patients Saturday.

Although the vast majority of virus-related deaths have occurred in mainland China where more than 31,000 cases are concentrated, the first known U.S. citizen to succumb was confirmed Friday night.

Meanwhile, officials with the Japanese Foreign Ministry attributed the death of a Japanese citizen – confirmed Saturday morning – to viral pneumonia only, the Times reported.

Outside of China, five new cases were confirmed in France, bringing the country's total number of cases to 11, CNN reported.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Saturday that all five of the new cases involve British nationals, including one child, but none are currently listed in serious condition, the network reported.

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