THE coronavirus death toll has increased to 106 over the past week – a jump of 1600 per cent – as the number of infections surges.
China’s National Health Commission has said number of confirmed cases nearly doubled in a day to stand at 4,515 on Monday.
On January 21, the death took stood at six but that has been steadily increasing before the start of this week saw a dramatic jump from 56 to 106.
The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally after the initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan.
The first death, that of a 50-year-old man, has now been recorded in Beijing with the rest in Hubei province, near Wuhan
The youngest case is a nine-year-old girl, also in Beijing.
So far there have been no reported deaths from coronavirus outside of China
But experts have warned the coronavirus will become a worldwide pandemic if governments do not impose heavy global travel bans.
Hong Kong has begun imposing travel restrictions with the high-speed rail link to the mainland now halted and the number of flights halved.
It comes as scientists at the University of Hong Kong have issued a warning that the spread of the deadly SARS-like virus was accelerating.
Head of the team of experts Gabriel Leung said: "We have to be prepared that this particular epidemic may be about to become a global epidemic.
Thailand and Hong Kong each reported eight cases, the US, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five each, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia declared four, France has three, Vietnam two, and Nepal one.
China's increasingly drastic containment efforts began with the suspension of plane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
That lockdown has expanded to 17 cities with more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed.
Experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said tests proved humans first caught the bug from animals sold at Huanan Seafood Market.
Snakes, rats, beavers, wolf cubs and even koalas are regularly slaughtered to order at the market.
It has already been suggested snakes which had eaten infected bats are to blame for the shocking virus – which has so far claimed the lives of more than 80 people and infected nearly 3,000.
Since the start of the outbreak footage and images have been circulated purporting to show people eating the Chinese delicacy.
Bat soup is reported to be an unusual but popular dish particularly in crisis-hit Wuhan.
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