BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- A total of 243 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospitals after recovery by the end of Friday, Chinese health authorities announced Saturday.

Friday saw 72 people walk out of the hospital after recovery, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily report.

Patients can be discharged when the symptoms are alleviated, the body temperature remains at a normal range for at least three days, and the nucleic acid test shows a negative result twice, according to the NHC.

As of Friday midnight, a total of 259 people had died and 11,791 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China.