BEIJING: A total of nine people have died from the new strain of coronavirus in China, with as many as 440 coronavirus cases currently confirmed in the country, Li Bin, a vice head of China’s National Health Commission, told reporters on Wednesday.

“As of now, the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in China has reached 440, nine people have died,” Xinhua news agency quoted Li Bin as saying.

Earlier on Wednesday, China’s National Health Commission said that there were 324 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in its latest report this week that a total of 282 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed, 278 of them in China, where 6 people had died from the virus.

Cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus have been reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States. China’s health authorities have confirmed that the virus can be passed from one person to another.

On Tuesday, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it had started working on the development of a vaccine that could cure the new coronavirus strain. – Bernama