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WHO Concerned Over New Coronavirus Cases Outside China

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Many people across China returned to work on Monday. They were coming back after the government extended the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

However, the World Health Organization, WHO, said it is concerned about the spread of the virus among people who have not traveled to China.

Deaths from the international epidemic rose to 908. Ninety-seven of those deaths were reported on Sunday. It was the largest increase in a single day since the outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. As of Monday, two of the deaths had taken place outside of mainland China.

In another case of infections outside of China, the Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama. The ship has 135 confirmed cases.

In Britain, the government said on Monday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases there had increased to eight. Officials declared the virus a serious threat. The action gives the government powers to quarantine people suspected of being infected.

Across mainland China, 3,062 new cases were confirmed on Sunday. The total number of cases is now more than 40,100, China's National Health Commission said.

Wu Fan is the vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school. Wu said there was hope the spread might soon begin to drop off.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Denis…
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Denis…

However, the chief of the World Health Organization said there had been "concerning" examples of people who were infected and had not been to China.

This may mean there is "more widespread transmission in other countries," he said.

A team of WHO experts has arrived in Beijing to help investigate the outbreak. Reuters news agency estimates that the virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories. More than 330 people outside of mainland China have been infected including two deaths, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines, Reuters reported.

The outbreak of the new coronavirus is now deadlier than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002 and 2003.

Ten extra days were added to the Lunar New Year holiday. But even on Monday, many offices remained closed.

Wuhan is in Hubei province. The area of 60 million people has been hardest hit by the outbreak. Travel there is mostly banned with train stations and airports closed and roads blocked.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency and the Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

epidemic - n. an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people

outbreak - n. a sudden start or increase of fighting or disease

cruise - n. to travel on a boat or ship to a number of places as a vacation

quarantine - v. to isolate someone because of infectious illness

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