Death toll in China crosses 1,700; confirmed cases at 70,500

Death toll in China crosses 1,700; confirmed cases at 70,500

The death toll in China, related to the novel coronavirus outbreak, went past 1,700 on February 17. This, after 100 more people reportedly died in the epidemic’s epicentre — Hubei province.

In its daily update, the province's health commission also reported 1,933 new cases.

At least 70,500 people have now been infected across China.

The number of new cases in the province had been declining since a large spike last week when officials changed their criteria for counting cases to include people diagnosed through lung imaging.

The latest figures were around 100 higher than those on February 16, but the number still sharply down on those from February 14-15.

Outside Hubei, the number of new cases has been declining and a spokesman for China's national health authority said on February 17 that the slowing figures were a sign the outbreak was being controlled.

However, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned it is "impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take".

International experts have arrived in Beijing and begun meeting with their Chinese counterparts over the epidemic, Tedros said on Twitter.