Beijing reports 433 more cases of new coronavirus and a total of 2,744 deaths, while Australian PM Scott Morrison says the world is about to be gripped by "a pandemic of coronavirus."
China on Thursday reported 433 more cases of the new coronavirus along with 29 additional deaths, as countries worry about possible contagion from other hotbeds of infection, including Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
"Currently there are 43,258 confirmed cases, among which 8,346 are severe cases," Chinese National Health Commission Spokesperson Mi Feng said.
"There are altogether 32,495 cured cases and 2,744 deaths. There have been 78,497 confirmed cases. The current number of suspected cases is 2,358."
Of the new cases, 383 were in the city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, the official said.
Consumption of wild animals
China officials said they will further crackdown on activities linked to the illegal trafficking of wildlife animals.
It comes after China's top legislative committee on Monday began deliberating a proposal to ban all trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the country's deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The government will shut down illegal markets and clean up licenses submitted to the institutions involved in the artificial breeding and trading of wild animals. Wang Weisheng, deputy director of Wildlife Protection of China's State Forestry Administration, said.
Hunting, trading and transporting terrestrial wild animals that naturally grow and breed in the wild for consumption will be banned according to a decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Monday.
For the first time, the coronavirus has caused more new cases outside China, the epicentre of the outbreak, than inside the country.
With Brazil on Wednesday confirming Latin America's first case, the virus has reached every continent but Antarctica.
Fears of virus reaching Australia
Also on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was every sign the world is about to be gripped by a pandemic of coronavirus, as Canberra kicked off emergency measures to restrain the spread of the disease.
While the spread has slowed within China, Morrison said the escalation across Europe, Asia, and the Americas makes the chance of a pandemic more likely.
"We believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us," Morrison told a news conference in the capital Canberra.
"We need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic."
Morrison is one of the world's first leaders to acknowledge the threat of the virus spreading beyond global containment efforts.