BEIJING: The toll due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China rose to 56 on Sunday with confirmed cases of the affliction reaching 1,975. About 324 of them are critical, the National Health Commission said.
A total of 2,684 suspected cases have also been reported so far, it said.
While Wuhan and 17 others cities in Hubei province remained the epicentre of the viral disease outbreak with most of the deaths having taken place there, the cases have started rising steadily in most of the Chinese provinces and cities, including Beijing.
Hubei province added 323 new confirmed cases of infection on January 25. It also reported 13 new deaths.
Ten new coronavirus afflictions were reported till Saturday in Beijing, taking the number of cases to 51 in the city, the report said. Shanghai, China's biggest city, has reported 40 cases so far, it added.
Chinese president Xi Jinping on Saturday said China is facing a "grave situation" but he expressed confidence that the country would "win the battle" against the coronavirus epidemic.
Stepping up all-round efforts to contain the fast spreading SARS-like virus, China on Saturday announced it would build another 1,300-bed makeshift hospital in Wuhan in the next 15 days in addition to another 1,000-bed hospital being built presently in the city. Its is expected to be completed in 10 days.
The feverish pace at which the hospitals are being built indicates China is preparing to treat far more patients, considering the speed at which the virus is spreading.
The virus has spread to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Nepal, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the US as of Thursday. Japan on Friday had reported a second confirmed case.
The confirmed cases in China crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time on Friday, rising sharply to 1,287 with 237 people reported critical, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
China's Communist Party has set up a leading group to manage the coronavirus epidemic, state media reported on Saturday. The decision was made at a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee - the party's top leadership tier - chaired by President Xi.
In the meeting, Xi said people from different ethnic groups and sectors should work together to support efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus. The country is facing a "grave situation", he was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.
"As long as the nation has strong confidence and makes joint efforts with scientific and targeted measures, the battle of the prevention and control of the contagion will be won," Xi said, chairing meeting on the day of the Lunar New Year.
Xi also called for all-out efforts to prevent and control the coronavirus-related pneumonia and extended his heartfelt gratitude to the frontline medical staff, struggling to control the outbreak....