(Bloomberg) -- Hubei province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak reported 349 new cases, a sharp decline from nearly 1,700 the previous day as China again changed its method for counting infections.

China’s National Health Commission said Thursday it would now only classify patients as suspected cases and confirmed cases, eliminating the category for clinically diagnosed cases by CT scans.

The number of discharged patients in Hubei rose by 1,209, topping the number of new infections for the first time. Hubei’s numbers for additional cases have been falling for the past week, while those for discharged patients have been rising.

The global death toll rose above 2,100 as Hubei added 108 fatalities, while confirmed cases total more than 75,000.

Key Developments

  • China death toll rises to at least 2,112
  • Hubei adds 108 deaths, new cases increase by 349
  • Iran reports first deaths from coronavirus
  • China nears takeover of troubled HNA
  • U.S. issues travel advisory for Hong Kong

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CDC Warns Travelers to Hong Kong (4:20 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned travelers to Hong Kong to be prepared for the novel coronavirus after a second person there died from the infection.

The agency put in place a level 1 travel notice for Hong Kong that advises visitors to avoid contact with sick people and to wash their hands often to avoid contracting the virus, which is spreading there from person-to-person.

The CDC has level 4 advisory for China’s Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, which means no one should travel there. The rest of mainland China is level 3, meaning people should avoid non-essential travel.

Two Iran Patients Die: Report (11:37 a.m. NY)

Two Iranian citizens who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, a Health Ministry official told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, the country’s first fatalities from the outbreak.

The patients were elderly residents of the the city of Qom, said the news agency, about 100 miles (150 kilometers) south of Tehran.

China Said to Near Takeover of HNA Group (9:45 a.m. NY)

China is planning to take over HNA Group Co. and sell off its airline assets after the coronavirus outbreak hit the indebted conglomerate’s ability to meet financial obligations, according to people familiar with the plans.

The government of Hainan, the southern island province where HNA is based, is in talks to take control of the conglomerate, which has been shedding assets after a global buying spree left it with one of the highest levels of corporate debt in China, the people said. The airline assets could be taken over later by other local companies, they said.

China’s Central Bank Expects ‘Limited’ Virus Impact (8:41 a.m. NY)

The People’s Bank of China acknowledged the downward pressure facing the economy and said the impact of the outbreak would be “short-lived” and “limited in terms of time and scope.”

It called for a “rational view” on the economic impact of the virus and said it’ll work to promote consumption and investment to boost domestic demand, according to a quarterly monetary policy report.

IMF Sees Global Economic Rebound Despite Virus Threat (8:30 a.m. NY)

Worldwide economic growth is expected to “moderately strengthen” this year, according to the IMF, despite the Washington-based lender warning that the coronavirus is one of the main risks that could derail that outlook.

Russia Exports to China Slump, Indonesia Spending Hit (6:24 a.m. NY)

Russia’s exports to China dropped by almost a third in the first six weeks of the year as the spread of coronavirus sapped demand in the world’s second-biggest economy. Separately, Indonesia’s revenue and spending fell in the first month of the year and the country’s finance minister warned of more risks to economic growth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark Schoifet

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