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WHO urges calm as China virus death toll nears 1,900

AFP

The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak rose again on Tuesday but Chinese and international health officials sought to calm global nerves, citing a study showing most cases are mild and warning against excessive measures to contain the epidemic.

Nearly 1,900 people have now died and more than 72,000 people have been infected by the virus in China, with hundreds more cases in some 25 countries.

The epidemic has triggered panic-buying in Singapore and Hong Kong, concerns about cruise-ship travel and the postponement of trade fairs, sports competitions and cultural events in China and abroad.

The outbreak is threatening to put a dent in the global economy, with China paralysed by vast quarantine measures and major firms such as iPhone maker Apple and mining giant BHP warning it could damage bottom lines.

Several countries have banned travellers from China and major airlines have suspended flights.

The World Health Organization, which has previously said travel restrictions were unnecessary, rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted after hundreds of passengers were infected on one vessel off Japan.