Coronavirus outbreak: China death toll rises to 9, pandemic fears mount

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The death toll from a new flu-like coronavirus in China rose to nine on Wednesday with 440 confirmed cases, Chinese health officials said as authorities stepped up efforts to control the outbreak by discouraging public gatherings in Hubei province.

Another 2,197 people who came into contact with infected people were isolated, with 765 so far released from observation, National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin told reporters, adding that there was already evidence that the virus was being spread through “respiratory transmission”.

“Recently there has been a big change in the number of cases, which is related to our deepening our understanding of the disease, improving diagnostic methods and optimising the distribution of diagnostic kits,” said Li.

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