The number of patients infected with a new type of coronavirus discovered in central China has risen to 440, including nine deaths, state media reported Wednesday.
Patients carrying the virus were identified across 13 Chinese provinces, said Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Fears about the spread of the disease are growing as millions of people are travelling to their hometowns this week to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday.
Face masks were rapidly selling out in major Chinese cities on Tuesday, following Chinese authorities’ announcement that the coronavirus was transmittable from person to person.
Cases have been identified in Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
The United States reported its first patient carrying the disease on Tuesday.
The new coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a disease that killed 800 people globally in a 2002-03 pandemic that also started in China.