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Coronavirus outbreak: Global death toll passes 1,000

11:11 | 11/02/2020

The number of fatalities from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,016 nationwide on Tuesday (Feb 11) after 108 new deaths, including 103 in the Hubei province.

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The other deaths were in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Anhui and Henan and the cities of Tianjin and Beijing, the National Health Commission said.

The commission said there were another 2,478 new confirmed cases on the mainland on Monday, down from 3,062 on the previous day and bringing the accumulated total to 42,638.

This includes the 2,097 new cases reported in Hubei province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

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.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with medical workers and patients affected at a hospital in Beijing on Monday, where he called for "more decisive measures" to contain the outbreak, said state broadcaster CCTV.

An advance team for a World Health Organization-led international expert mission on the virus arrived in China late Monday, headed by Bruce Aylward. He oversaw the organization's 2014-2016 response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Ahead of the team's arrival, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there had been some "concerning instances" of cases overseas in people with no travel history to China.

A week ago, only two laboratories in Africa could diagnose the novel coronavirus that originated in China and is rapidly spreading around the world.

As of Sunday, WHO expected every nation in Africa to be able to diagnose the disease.

The rush reflects a global push for diagnostic capabilities, particularly in developing countries, in hopes of averting a global pandemic. But it is being slowed by a desperate need for virus samples necessary to validate the tests.

"Without vital diagnostic capacity, countries are in the dark as to how far and wide the virus has spread and who has coronavirus or another disease with similar symptoms," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

WHO has activated a network of 15 referral laboratories that can support national efforts in confirming new cases, and has identified 168 labs globally with the technology to diagnose the virus.

Technicians must be trained to run the tests locally to avoid delays associated with having to send them to centralised labs.

On Tuesday, WHO is convening a two-day meeting of hundreds of researchers and manufacturers to address the outbreak.

Vietnam has developed test kits for the novel coronavirus that provides results in just 70 minutes as opposed to the current four hours.

Earlier, the country had announced that it has successfully cultured and isolated the nCoV in the lab, allowing quicker test results and paving the way for development of a new vaccine.

Britain on Monday recorded a doubling of cases to eight, and the government warned the outbreak of novel coronavirus was a "serious and imminent threat."

US President Donald Trump said he expected the outbreak would disappear in April due to hotter weather, a prognosis at odds with top US health officials./.

VNF/Reuters/CNA