Death toll from China virus sets a grim new record

BEIJING, Feb 4 (Reuters) - China said it would welcome assistance from the United States to fight a coronavirus outbreak, a day after it accused Washington of scaremongering, and as the death toll rose on Tuesday by a new daily record to more than 420.

The toll in China rose to 425 as of the end of Monday, up by a record 64 from the previous day, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday. All of the new deaths were in central Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency, although experts say much is still unknown about the pathogen including its lethality.

"We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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China coronavirus outbreak spreads across regions
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China coronavirus outbreak spreads across regions
A traveler wears a face mask as he sits in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A fourth person has died in an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, authorities said Tuesday, as more places stepped up medical screening of travelers from the country as it enters its busiest travel period. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A girl wearing a face mask sits among suitcases at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Travelers wearing face masks gather at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Staff in biohazard suits hold a metal stretcher by the in-patient department of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a novel coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Peatones con máscaras de protección en una zona comercial de Tokio, el jueves 16 de enero de 2020. (AP Foto/Eugene Hoshiko)
Health workers wear protective gear Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003, in Ward E3 of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Hong Kong's New Territories, where 24 patients were quarantined after seven of its health workers developed flu-like symptoms, although none have tested positive for SARS. According to a hospital spokesperson five nurses and two health care assistants working in the hospital's Ward E3 developed symptoms such as coughs, sore throats and fevers on Friday. Hong Kong's health chief, Dr.Yeoh Eng-kiong, said that preliminary test results showed patients' samples did not contain coronavirus that causes SARS and researchers are trying to identify the cause of the illness. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Workers monitor screens for fever signs on passengers detected by infrared detectors at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk outside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: Chinese travellers wear protective masks as they arrive to board trains at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
YICHANG, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Travelers wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station in Yichang in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. China has stepped up the measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in China.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: A Chinese girl wears a protective mask as her mother pushes her on a suitcase to board a train at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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The total number of infections in China rose by 3,235 on Tuesday to 20,438, and there are at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.

The CDC confirmed a handful of new cases in the United States, bringing the U.S. total to 11, including a patient in California who was infected through close contact with someone in the same household who had been infected in China.

It marked the second instance of person-to-person spread of the virus in the United States after such a case was announced last week in Illinois.

China accused the United States of whipping up panic over the coronavirus outbreak Chinese stock market plunged about 8% on Monday on the first day back from an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

Beijing made the accusation after the Trump administration on Friday said it was barring nearly all foreign visitors who have been to China within the past 14 days to address the threat of the virus.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman on Tuesday said the United States "should adopt an objective, fair, calm and rational attitude" and "refrain from overreacting."

"China has noted that the United States has repeatedly expressed its willingness to provide assistance to China, and hopes that the relevant assistance will be provided soon," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on the ministry's website.

With Wuhan and some other cities in virtual lockdown, travel severely restricted and China facing increasing international isolation, fears of wider economic disruption are growing; sources at the OPEC oil cartel said producers were considering cutting output by almost a third to support prices.

Airlines around the world have stopped flights to parts of China. A suspension by the United Arab Emirates on Monday will affect the Gulf airlines Etihad and Emirates.

The outbreak is reminiscent of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a virus from the same family that emerged in China in 2002 and killed almost 800 people around the world out of the 8,000 or so who were infected.

Chinese data suggest that the new virus, while much more contagious than SARS, is significantly less lethal, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

Some economists predict world economic output will be cut by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points due to China's lockdown.

Countries continued to fly evacuation flights for citizens out of Wuhan. A plane load of Australians left the city on Monday and arrived in the Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island, where they will be quarantined, media reported on Tuesday.

The United States, which flew people out last week, is planning "a handful more flights" while Russia was due to start evacuating its citizens from Wuhan on Monday.

The White House said China had accepted its offer to have U.S. experts as part of a WHO mission to study and help combat the virus, which emerged from a market in Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan late last year.

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