The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 25, with infection cases standing at more than 800, Chinese authorities said on Friday.
The National Health Commission said 830 cases had been confirmed so far and 25 people had died as of Thursday, Reuters reports.
Most of the cases are in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.
Non-fatal cases have been found in at least seven other countries.
Health officials fear the transmission rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.
Scrambling to contain the outbreak, authorities in Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, suspended most transport on Thursday, including outgoing flights, and people were told not to leave.
Hours later, neighboring Huanggang, a city of about 7 million people, announced similar measures.
“The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO’s representative in Beijing.
The organization said, however, that it is not yet recommending any broader restrictions on travel or trade.
The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.
It has created alarm because there are a number of unknowns surrounding it. It is too early to know just how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.
There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing.
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