Eighty-six deaths were reported from mainland China, with 3,399 cases on Friday (Photo Credit: Representational Image)
The death toll in China due to coronavirus jumped to 722 on Friday, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 34,546, Chinese health authorities announced on Saturday. Eighty-six deaths were reported from mainland China, with 3,399 cases on Friday from 31 provincial-level regions, the National Health Commission said. Among the deaths, 81 are in Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, two in Heilongjiang, as well as one in Beijing, Henan and Gansu, the commission said.
The death count due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has surpassed the toll from the SARS outbreak on the mainland and Hong Kong almost two decades ago. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a disease in the same family as the new coronavirus, left nearly 650 people dead in mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. More than 120 others died around the world.
A total of 4,214 new suspected cases were reported and 1,280 patients became seriously ill, and 510 people were discharged from hospital after recovery, according to the commission. By the end of Friday, 26 confirmed cases, including one death, have been reported in Hong Kong. Macao reported 10 cases, while Taiwan reported 16 cases, it said.
It added that 6,101 patients remained in severe condition, and 27,657 people were suspected of being infected with the virus. As many as 2,050 people have been discharged from hospital after recovery.
The commission said 3.45 lakh 'close contacts' have been traced, adding that among them, 26,702 were discharged from medical observation on Friday. Over 1.89 lakh others are still under medical observation.
China has struggled to contain the current virus despite having placed some 56 million people under effective lockdown in Hubei and its provincial capital, Wuhan. Other cities far from the epicentre have also taken measures to keep people indoors, limiting the number of individuals who can leave their home.
Friday's death of a 34-year-old Wuhan doctor who was punished for raising the alarm about the virus in December sparked an outpouring of grief and anger over the government's handling of the crisis.
The virus has spread to two dozen countries, prompting several governments to ban arrivals from China and urge their citizens to avoid travelling to the country. Some have recommended their citizens leave China. Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China.
At least 61 people aboard a cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, with thousands of passengers and crew facing a two-week quarantine.