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China virus deaths jump to 902

INTERNATIONAL DESK:  The number of deaths from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 902 on Monday after the hardest-hit province of Hubei reported 91 new fatalities.

In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission also confirmed another 2,618 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

There are now more than 39,800 confirmed cases across China, based on previously released figures from the government.

The new virus is believed to have emerged last year in a market that sells wild animals in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, before spreading across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Saturday that the number of cases being reported daily in China was “stabilising”, although the health body warned it was too early to say if the virus had peaked.

A WHO “international expert mission” left late Sunday for China, the agency’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

The only confirmed fatalities outside the mainland are a Chinese man in the Philippines and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.

The toll has overtaken the global number of deaths caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which killed 774 people in 2002-03.

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