The death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has risen to 259 with total confirmed cases surging to 11,791 amid stepped up efforts by a number of countries to evacuate their nationals from Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus, officials said on Saturday.
Chinese health authorities have announced that the death toll has risen to 259 with total confirmed cases increasing to 11,791, the biggest increase since China began reporting the spread of the virulent virus on January 21.
China's National Health Commission said in its daily report on Saturday that 1,795 patients remained in critical condition, and 17,988 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of the end of Friday.
A total of 243 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.
Friday saw 2,102 new confirmed cases, 5,019 new suspected cases, and 46 deaths.
So far about 124 positive cases have been reported in a host of countries, including India where the first case was confirmed in Kerala.
Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan remained the ground zero of the virus with 45 deaths and 1,347 confirmed cases, according to the Chinese commission's report.
A total of 1,36,987 close contacts had been traced, the commission said, adding that among them, 6,509 were discharged from medical observation on Friday, with 1,18,478 others still under medical observation, state run Xinhua news agency reported.
By the end of Friday, 13 confirmed cases had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, seven in Macao Special Administrative Region and ten in Taiwan.
India and several other countries, meanwhile, have stepped evacuating their nationals stranded by Hubei province.
Air India's jumbo B747 plane took off from the Wuhan airport in the early hours of Saturday for Delhi, evacuating 324 Indian nationals from China as the neighbouring country continued to deal with the outbreak of novel coronavirus, said officials.
A second flight is due to take the remaining people on Saturday.