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CORONAVIRUS

Number of new coronavirus cases in China drops for third consecutive day

A coronavirus sufferer is brought to the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan, China.
A coronavirus sufferer is brought to the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan, China. Hector RETAMAL / AFP

The number of new cases from China's coronavirus epidemic dropped for a third consecutive day on Sunday. But the World Health Organisation has warned it is impossible to predict how the outbreak will develop.

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Global concern remains high about the spread of the virus, which first emerged in China's central Hubei province in December, with the first death outside Asia reported in France on 15 February.

The death toll jumped to 1,665 in mainland China on Sunday after 142 more people died from the virus. More than 68,000 people have now been infected -- but the number of new cases of the Covid-19 strain continued to decline.

In hardest-hit Hubei province, the number of new cases slowed for a third consecutive day. At 139, the number of deaths was level with Saturday's toll.

The number of new cases in other parts of the country has dropped for twelve straight days.

WHO chief warns against fanning the flames of hysteria

The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned however that it was "impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take".

"We ask all governments, companies, and news organisations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm without fanning the flames of hysteria," he said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

"China has bought the world time. We don't know how much time."

The UN health body has asked China for more details on how diagnoses are being made.

An international team of WHO experts will arrive in Beijing this weekend for a joint mission with their Chinese counterparts.

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