The novel coronavirus in China has now killed 169 people, the government says

he novel coronavirus in China has now killed 169 people, says the government (AFP)

The number of confirmed deaths from China's viral epidemic has risen to 169, the government says on Thursday, as hard-hit Hubei province reported 37 new fatalities.

Hubei, the epicenter of a contagion that is causing mounting global fear, also reported 1,032 new confirmed cases of infection.

The CASES of deadly coronavirus have tripled in just 3 days - with the strain infecting more people in China than SARS did. experts warn the outbreak of the new killer infection is likely to peak in 10 days.

Chinese health authorities reported that confirmed cases has hit 5,974 bringing the global total to more than 6,000 - up from 2,014 on Sunday, according to World Health Organization figures.

But Zhong Nanshan, from China's National Health Commission, warned: "I believe it should reach a peak in a week or around ten days."

He added that he doesn't expect the outbreak to "increase at a large scale" - despite the soar in case numbers.

During the SARS pandemic, between 2002 and 2003, the number of infections reached 5,327 in mainland China, where 349 people were also killed.

While some experts believe coronavirus is not as deadly as SARS, there are fears over it spreading quickly and key features are still unknown, including how lethal it really is.

Like other respiratory infections, it is spread by droplets from coughs and sneezes, with an incubation time from one to 14 days.

There are limited signs it may also be able to spread before symptoms show.
Contain it

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it is confident in China's ability to contain the coronavirus, but concern is mounting as cases continue to rise.

Last night, the death toll rose by 37 to 169 - almost all in the province of Hubei - where the virus emerged last month at an animal market in the capital, Wuhan.

The central province of about 60 million people is under virtual lockdown.

Concern is also growing over the impact of the virus on the world's second-biggest economy, with airlines cutting flights to China and global companies restricting employee travel there.

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee will meet on Thursday, the third time in a week, to evaluate whether the new coronavirus spreading from China constitutes an international emergency, the WHO said.

Vaccine trials

In what could be a major step towards reining in the disease, scientists in Australia said they had developed a lab-grown version of the coronavirus, the first to be recreated outside China.

Efforts are underway to find a vaccine, but even the most optimistic timelines suggest eight weeks to several months of scientific development before human clinical trials can begin.

By that time, hundreds more could have died and numerous other countries infected.

(AFP / The Sun)

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