Beijing: The toll in China's alarming coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 25 with confirmed cases rising sharply to 830, Chinese health authorities said on Friday.
The pneumonia-like afliction has taken 24 lives in central China's Hubei province and one in north China's Hebei, the National Health Commission said.
By Thursday, 830 confirmed cases of pneumonia, caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), have been reported in 29 provincial-level regions in the country, it said.
A total of 1,072 suspected cases have been reported in 20 provincial-level regions, according to the National Health Commission.
As the virus spread in the country and the world, China on Thursday locked down five cities, including Wuhan, suspending all public transport in an unprecedented move to contain the coronavirus, dampening celebrations of the Lunar New Year.
On Thursday evening, Chinese officials announced suspension of public transport in five cities -- Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, Qianjiang and Wuhan in Hubei province -- official media reported.
Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have first emerged, has no trains or planes going in or out.
According to the health commission in northern Hebei province, which borders Beijing, an 80-year-old man diagnosed with the new virus died on January 22.
The victims' average age was 73, with the oldest 89 and the youngest 48. So far 631 cases have been confirmed in 25 provincial-level regions in the country.
The Wuhan lockdown is a cause of concern for Indian students who still remain there. The city has about 700 Indian students, majority of them studying medicine. However, most of the students have apparently left for home for holidays.
As concerns grew over their safety, the Indian Embassy on Thursday opened helplines and established contacts with the concerned Chinese officials to ensure food and other supplies for those who remained in the city.
In new disclosure, Chinese officials on Thursday confirmed fresh cases of coronavirus in people who did not even travel to Wuhan recently.
The National Health Commission also reported increasing number of cases with no exposure to Wuhan's Hunan seafood wholesale market, which is believed to be related to most of the infected cases. The cases without confirmed exposure to the market have been found overseas.
The virus, which a doctor in Wuhan told BBC is spreading at an alarming rate, has dampened the Chinese New Year celebrations beginning Friday.
Chinese all over the world formally bid goodbye to the year of the pig and welcome the year of rat on Friday and welcomed the year of Rat. The Chinese government has given week long holiday.
In view of virus scare, several cities including Beijing have cancelled special events. The festival is also known as the Spring Festival.
Large cultural activities during spring festival in Beijing such as temple fairs were cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus.