For the third time in eight days — and the second time in 24 hours — Chinese public health officials made changes Friday to their criteria for counting coronavirus cases, once again sowing confusion over the widely fluctuating figures. In a further sign of potential inconsistencies, an official in China’s Hubei Health Commission suggested that agencies were not being transparent and accurate in their reported case numbers.

Another death amid a surge in coronavirus cases in South Korea — many traced to a church — also provoked fresh alarm Friday, after Chinese authorities reported hundreds of new infections at prisons, undercutting Beijing’s effort to show progress in containing the deadly epidemic.

The prison outbreaks underscored the high transmissibility of the virus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, in confined spaces. People on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan also have been hit hard by covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel reported their first coronavirus cases, and infection numbers rose in Italy. By Friday night, Italy had reported its first death from the virus: a 78-year-old man. Authorities in Iran also reported two deaths among 13 new infections, raising the tally there to 18 cases.

Here are the latest developments:

●A second person died of covid-19 and cases in South Korea soared, with investigators focusing on a church and hospital as clusters of infection in the southern city of Daegu.

● Hundreds of passengers were disembarking from the Diamond Princess, but the massive case load left questions about the rigor of quarantine and testing procedures on board.

● Italy confirmed its first death from the virus Friday night. Earlier, Israel announced its first coronavirus case — a Diamond Princess passenger — while Lebanon reported its first infection — someone who had just traveled from Iran.

● Beijing braced for a potential explosion of infection numbers in the capital after two hospitals were put under quarantine.

● World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Friday’s “significant decrease in confirmed cases is partly due to another change in the way China reports numbers.”