On Thursday, National Health Commission of China said the total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the country has risen by 38 to 170 as of end-Wednesday, as the number of infected patients rose by more than 1,700.
The commission in a statement said there were 7,711 confirmed cases as of the end of Wednesday, with an additional 12,167 suspected cases. Although the majority of cases have been in Hubei, cases have been detected elsewhere in China and in at least 15 other countries.
Later on Thursday, The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee is set to reconvene behind closed doors in Geneva to decide whether the rapid spread of the virus now constitutes a global emergency.
“In the last few days the progress of the virus, especially in some countries, especially human-to-human transmission, worries us,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Wednesday, naming Germany, Vietnam and Japan.
“Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.”
The virus originated in Wuhan city of China in December and has since then spread to various cities around the world.
China has imposed quarantine and travel restrictions, affecting the movement of 56 million people in more than a dozen cities, amid fears that the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year.
Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a global pandemic as the virus continues to spread, with cases reported in Australia, France, the United States and seven Asian countries besides China.