As China vowed to tighten containment measures in hospitals, the World Health Organization was due to hold an emergency meeting later on Wednesday.
BEIJING — The death toll from a new flu-like coronavirus in China rose to 17 from 9 on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported. Some 544 people have been infected across the country, according to state-run CGTN.
Authorities have stepped up efforts to control the outbreak by discouraging public gatherings in central Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated.
On Tuesday, a case of the disease was confirmed in a U.S. patient, federal health officials said.
Earlier, health officials reported that 2,197 people who had come into close contact with infected patients in China have been isolated, with 765 so far released from observation.
National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin told reporters there was already evidence that the virus was being spread through “respiratory transmission.”
“Recently there has been a big change in the number of cases, which is related to our deepening understanding of the disease, improving diagnostic methods and optimizing the distribution of diagnostic kits,” Li said.