BEIJING: China will step up efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays as a rise in confirmed cases fanned fears the virus could spread to other countries.

The National Health Commission said on Sunday (Jan 19) departments should work together to carry out preventative measures.

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"Our commission will step up our guard during the Spring Festival, pay close attention to the development and change of the epidemic, and direct the implementation of prevention and control measures," the commission said, adding that it believes the outbreak can be controlled.

READ: Wuhan pneumonia virus casts shadow over Chinese New Year festival

Wuhan's health authority confirmed earlier on Sunday 17 more cases of the virus in the city, bringing the total number of known patients there to 62.

Two people have died from the virus in Wuhan, the largest city in central China with a population of about 11 million people. Three cases have been confirmed abroad – two in Thailand and one in Japan – involving people from Wuhan or who recently visited the city.

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China, the World Health Organisation and authorities across the globe are stepping up efforts to contain the virus, which initially emerged in Wuhan in late December as a wave of pneumonia patients.

READ: Hundreds likely affected by China virus, say researchers

Many of China's 1.4 billion people will travel domestically and abroad during the Chinese New Year break that begins next week, raising concerns about the virus spreading to other countries.

The virus belongs in the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.

Though some experts say the new virus may not be as deadly as SARS, there is still little known about it including its origin and how easily it can be transmitted between humans.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday that some of the new cases appear not to be linked to the Huanan seafood market, believed to be the centre of the outbreak. Due to China's efforts to implement broader screening, new cases may be identified in the coming days and weeks, it adRead More – Source

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