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On Tuesday, the death toll in mainland China from the novel coronavirus outbreak has increased by 98 over the past 24 hours to 1,868, the Chinese state health committee said.

The novel coronavirus disease, named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in late December 2019 and has since spread to more than 20 other countries.

Nearly 72,500 people nationwide have been infected by the new COVID-19 strain of the virus, which has become a nationwide epidemic.

There were 1,886 new cases reported on Tuesday, a decline on Monday’s figure, and the lowest single-day figure of new cases so far this month.

A total of 12,552 coronavirus patients have by now been discharged from hospitals.

Most of the deaths were in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak, with five reported elsewhere in the country.

Hubei has been locked down to try to contain the virus, with tens of millions of people placed under effective quarantine in the province.

China’s national health authority has said the declining numbers are a sign that the outbreak is under control.

However, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the trend “must be interpreted very cautiously”.

“Trends can change as new populations are affected. It is too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” he told reporters on Monday.

A team of medical experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will visit Beijing and the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Sichuan in south and southwest China from Monday to assess the steps taken by the country to contain the virus’ spread. However, China’s foreign ministry hasn’t mentioned Wuhan or Hubei as part of the WHO team’s itinerary.

As of February 11, the government had acknowledged that more than 1,700 medical workers were infected, almost 90 percent of them in Hubei, according to Chinese National Health Commission deputy chief Zeng Yixin at a press conference Friday.

The study, titled ‘Analysis of the Epidemiological Features of New Coronavirus Pneumonia’, found that contrary to what was being assumed earlier, the virus was much more infectious than both Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle-Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The report states that, as of now, there is no evidence that a “super spreader” incident has occurred in any of the medical institutions.

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